Abby Satterthwaite refuses to conform to the “horse girl” stereotype


“Everyone thinks ‘weird horse girl,’ you know?” freshman Abby Satterthwaite laughed. “But, like, I’m not weird.”

Abby used to subconsciously justify owning and riding horses in order to slam the stigma surrounding it, for the label “horse girl” has seemed to always follow those who ride horses. 

But, throughout the years, as her love for the sport and for her horse has grown, Abby has slammed the stigma and instead focuses on her personal goals, which include training her own horses and racing them. 

Barrel racing, in which the horse circles three barrels as fast as it can, specifically, has proven to present its own challenges. 

“I was barrel racing on one of my trainer’s horses and the footing was like not that great,” Abby said. “And he’s like not a super young horse. He lost his footing and flipped over so I kind of jumped off because I didn’t want to get [stuck] under him. It was a cool video, though.”

This fall far from deterring her, Abby describes herself as an adrenaline junkie and does not stray from high speeds and jumps. Falling, to Abby, is part of the sport, and she has had concussions and broken ribs and tailbones to demonstrate that. 

Having her horse for almost a year and enduring countless broken bones in that time, Abby has been continually working towards her long-term goal of becoming a trainer, which, in her eyes, means being well-rounded in the sport and not tunnel-vision focusing on one thing. 

So, alongside barrel racing, she has been training for jumping and western riding. 

“I’m going into training horses, so I’m not like super serious about one thing,” Abby said. “A lot of people around here who ride are jumpers, but I kind of just do everything because I feel like to be a trainer you have to do everything.”

Training, in essence, means to be the first person to put the saddle on the horse—to raise them and train them to be the best they can be. Abby isn’t alone in training, though, because she has her own personal trainer to guide her. 

Having moved barns often throughout her career, Abby has found it difficult to find a long-term coach who caters to her and her horses’ own personal needs. Having a personable coach or trainer is an integral aspect of riding horses, and her current coach—who also coaches the equestrian team—has played an important role in shaping Abby’s enjoyment for the sport. 

“[My trainer] is great,” Abby said. “I love her. Honestly, if you don’t have a trainer that you like, [riding] is a lot less enjoyable.”

Abby travels 40 minutes four times a week to go to her current barn to be with her horse and current trainer, and those weekly 160 minutes devoted to her sport is for one simple reason: Abby loves horses, and she loves riding them. 

She does occasionally show her horses or compete with them, but her pure, unadulterated passion for riding horses outshines any award from any competition. Describing the additional high expense of each show, Abby has slowly stepped away from bigger competitions and is now investing in local, smaller shows. 

“My bigger show days were not last summer but the year before,” Abby said. “But they’re so expensive. That’s mainly why I don’t show. I do more smaller shows now; it’s more for fun, I guess.”

Because of her unashamed adoration for horses and interest in being with them every step of the way in their training, Abby’s underlying, ever-present goal is to train horses—which takes precedence over competing in competitions. 

Having her horse for a year now, and having her “favorite trainer,” beside her, Abby continues to passionately pursue her goal of being a trainer, whether she continues to compete or not. 

“I want to be a trainer someday,” Abby said. “So I’m not in it to spend money. I’m in it for the experience you gain from the shows, and I don’t really care about winning that much. I mean, I’m really competitive, but I don’t go to shows just because I want to win a show. I want to get that experience. And I just like having fun.”