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Husker Equestrian from Kansas Takes a Risk that Pays Off
Kansas Ag Connection - 09/28/2022

Senior Hadley Olson hadn't ridden horses since an early age. Months after a friend convinced her to try out for the Husker Equestrian Team, Olson was placing in national competitions.

"I was like, 'You know what? I just want to be around horses,'" Olson said. "I don't know how I got the courage to show up, but I did. I struggled to even get on a horse."

Having the courage to show up and try something new turned into an unexpected journey. Now the Lenexa, Kan., native is back on the horse -- and as it turns out, something of a natural.

Not only did Olson qualify for the competition team, but she placed second in the Beginner Horsemanship section of the Western Semifinals last spring. The Husker Equestrian Team won the overall championship in the competition.

"I never expected anything beyond just competing, but then I won my first show in November," Olson said. "I was in VR class when my coach called to ask me to be a rider in the semifinals team. I said, 'Are you sure?'"

Despite her success, Olson still finds herself asking a lot of questions.

She's still growing in her newfound passion, one that's helped take the pressure off her academic pursuits as an emerging media arts major and her goal of becoming a VFX rigger (the person who builds digital skeletons for computer-generated characters).

"Being on the team is my main stress reliever," Olson said. "We always talk about how when you're here riding, you leave everything else behind."

Having an outlet beyond academics has also given her some perspective.

"I used to care a lot if I couldn't achieve a certain thing. Now, with everything I have going on, it's not that big of a deal to me anymore," she said.

Although there are days where she finds her time-management skills being stretched and balancing everything to be overwhelming, she wouldn't dream of giving up.

"I'm not going to lie: it's hard," she said. "But I wouldn't give up one thing. I want it all."

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