Brooke Engles makes life her passion


Senior Brooke Engles has accomplished what many can only dream of.

She’s graduating a whole year early.

But, it’s not for the reasons many of us would want to graduate early, like a hate for high school. Instead, it’s derived from the fact that she’s found her passion and then made that passion a career.

When Brooke was a kid, she went to see Lipizzaner Stallions, a well-known horse breed. Like many young girls, she fell in love with the way they move and seemingly dance. However, it wasn’t until she was a little older that those initial feelings were given a place to develop.

“The summer going into eighth grade, I went to my family friend’s house because they own horses, and one of their mares just had a foal,” Brooke said. “It was really cute. I went to go meet them, and I just fell in love with the area, the people, and the barn.”

Brooke started off in the horse world as a stable hand under a local barn owner who pushed her to find a form of riding that fit her. For most people in the area, that would be Jumping or Western riding; however, for Brooke, it all went back to seeing the Lipizzaners. Hence, her event of choice was dressage.

Now, after many years and lots of hard work, Brooke has worked her way up to the higher levels of dressage. Most recently, Brooke showed at Regionals at The Kentucky Horse Park. Although she placed well in all her classes, it was in her Equitation Seat class that she placed first in, which advances her to Nationals.

“I am one of only ten juniors in the country who gets to go to Nationals,” Brooke said. “So, that’s insane. I was really excited; I have a picture of me, and I’m crying. I got one of the silver plate [medals], and I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ They tied the ribbon around my bridal. I was so excited, and it [was a] dream come true. It was a great time.”

Because of Brooke and her horse’s success, her determination and passion, and a support system that simply wants to see them succeed, Brooke plans to compete professionally and make a job out of the sport that’s become her entire world.

“Riding competitively can be a career. You’ve got to work really hard for it, and you’ve got to be one of the best,” Brooke shyly admitted. “It’s just all been absolutely worth it–the hours of hard work and not going to football games or something like that because I’m at the barn super late. Every ounce of effort that I put into this is starting to show. It doesn’t all happen all at once. But I’ve wanted to be an international rider as soon as I knew that that was the thing that you could do.”

She knew it was what she wanted, but how to get there posed some questions.

“So, long story short, I was like, ‘I can’t do anything else,’” Brooke said. “This is my passion. Everything else just seems boring in comparison. I can’t go to college. Sitting in a classroom isn’t interesting for me anymore. I just didn’t have the drive anymore. [Riding horses] takes over your life, so I was like, ‘How do I get out of here as quickly as possible?”

The answer was taking multiple classes over the summer to advance her to a senior level. She talked to her counselor, took the classes, made the changes, and thanks to her tenacity and resolve, she was able to move her graduation up a year. Now, Brooke will be able to devote all the many hours the rest of us will be spending in school, on riding.

However, riding isn’t a solo sport. As the rider, Brooke is only half of the whole.

For a time, her horse Summer was the other half. It soon became clear that Brooke was reaching for places that Summer couldn’t take her. It was time for a new horse.

After a long summer of searching for a new half, Brooke found Ruby.

“One of the horses that I tried first in New Jersey actually took off with me,” Brooke said. “That was the first time something like that had happened to me. So I got really scared and still wanted a ride, but I got nervous every time I [was] on a horse. Ruby just understood that and was like, ‘I’ll take care of you.’ So we kind of had that bond a little bit, and I just absolutely fell in love with him. I was like, ‘He’s my partner; I just want to take him home with me.’”

Like most horse people, once on the topic of her horse, there was no stopping the love from practically spilling out of her. Her passion for riding was obvious and her reasons for making it her whole life were clear.

“He never takes a step out of place. He’s just always there,” Brooke said. “If I don’t understand something, he’s like, ‘You don’t understand that, I get it, so I’m not going to be upset with you.’ He’s always just super forgiving, so it’s just been absolutely incredible, and I think that’s why I’ve been able to take the steps that I have to get where I am right now.”