Ella Weichelt traverses through her life on horseback

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Ella Weichelt

Ella Weichelt has been horseback riding for twelve years and has no intention of stopping.

Junior Ella Weichelt once found herself on the ground in the pouring rain at a horseshow.

She was riding her old pony on a showjumping course. The pouring rain made it incredibly slippery. When approaching a jump, her foot slipped out of the stirrup. Her pony overjumped and threw Ella off. Miraculously, she was uninjured. 

In her twelve years of riding—including this particular circumstance—she remains intact, with no major injuries.

“I fall off a lot, but I haven’t gotten a concussion or broken any bones,” Ella said. “[That’s] pretty good for twelve years.”

Horseback riding involves coordination and understanding between both the horse and the rider. Ella and her horse may not have been perfectly in sync with each other at the moments of her accidents, but it never led her to dislike the horse she’s fallen off of.

When times get tough, you just have to get going and keep trying.”

— Ella Weichelt

Since Ella has been riding for so long, she has ridden—and fallen off—many horses. She owned a horse of her own before he passed away, then she started leasing. Now, she rides any horse at her barn White Oak Farms.

Ella has been riding at White Oak Farms for roughly three years. Transferring riding locations has reopened a former relationship for her, as well as adding onto more recent ones. 

“A bunch of my friends are there,” Ella said, “and the trainers are amazing. My old trainer from seven years ago moved there, so now I’m back with her. [I like her because] she is just so forward with me; she’s honest. She’ll tell me what I’m doing wrong so I can improve.”

Being with her old trainer provides a path between her former and future riding. In twelve years, her riding has improved greatly. Having her past trainer with her again means that her trainer knows how she can learn best. As for her future, her barn and trainer provide her with a substantial college opportunity. 

“I want to go to Grand Valley State University for college to do the equestrian team there,” Ella said, who used to ride western before switching to showjumping. “I love my trainer, and she does the [Intercolligiate Horse Show Association] team there. I can go away but still be back at the same barn.”

Going to college is in Ella’s near future as a junior. Having something that she knows she can participate in at college provides a bit of relief from the big change. 

By attending GVSU, Ella can continue to ride horses, like Grover, at White Oak Farms. Grover is Ella’s current favorite horse at her barn. He reminds her of her old horse that passed away, which formed a connection between Ella and Grover. 

When riding, Ella finds it important to form relationships like she has with Grover and the one she had with her past horse.

“[My favorite thing is] just the connection with the horse,” Ella said. “It also gives me exercise and a way of getting away from drama in life.”

The link between Ella and a horse led her to choose this sport over any other. 

Ella used to do gymnastics before she decided to stick to horseback riding. At around seven years old, Ella knew that horseback riding was what she wanted to do. While she had ridden for a few years before that realization, she had never been fully set on it. She now feels that she has a larger connection with horseback riding than she could have with any other sport.

She has learned many things from her riding experiences. Like many other sports, riding has taught her valuable lessons that she translates into her life outside of horseback riding, and she will continue to learn more within her horseback riding future.

“[Riding has taught me to] never give up,” Ella said. “When times get tough, you just have to get going and keep trying.”