Trotting around a dimly lit arena, sophomore Lauren Stuckmeyer focuses intensely on making sure that every muscle is engaged and that she is positioned perfectly on top of her horse to guide him through a new, complex pattern.
Since she was two years old, Stuckmeyer has been putting time, effort and sweat into becoming the best equestrian that she can be. Now as a sophomore in high school, she has reaped the rewards of her years of effort as she was a Morgan World Champion in both 2018 and 2019. One of the reasons Stuckmeyer is so successful is because she uses horseback riding as an outlet for her competitive energy.
“I’m a very competitive person and riding horses fuels that fire. Riding teaches me to be patient understanding, and constantly teaches me how to work as a team with a 1,000 plus pound horse,” Stuckmeyer said.
Stuckmeyer and her mother, Grace Stuckmeyer, share the love of horseback riding and make the hour-long commute to and from Fire Stables in Lenexa three times a week. Grace was first encouraged by her mother to start riding and wants to pass the legacy of riding onto her daughter as well.
“I really wanted to pass on my passion for horses and my competitive edge. Lauren and I spend time at her lessons and at horse shows watching and videoing the horses she rides and rides against,” Grace said. “We love talking about horses.”
Riding a horse may seem easy for someone who has never trained before, in reality, high achieving equestrians such as Stuckmeyer have to work to build muscles and various skills on school horses that are used for training riders in specific skill sets. Stuckmeyer with the help of her equitation coach, Mandy Robinette, work hard to make sure that Stuckmeyer becomes the best equestrian that she can be.
“She gives 110% attention to the task at hand, whether she is building muscle on a ‘school horse’ or competing on one of the show horses at the highest level,” Robinette said.
It comes as no surprise to those around her that Stuckmeyer has done as well as she has due to her combination of natural talent, competitive spirit and strong work ethic. Stuckmeyer takes pride in her work and loves the rush of winning a competition.
“I’m always super excited and proud when I have a good ride or win. It just shows that hard work truly pays off,” Stuckmeyer said.
Stuckmeyer chooses to look up to other riders who show dedication and put in hard work to achieve their goals like herself. Her intense love for riding motivates her to continue on with the sport and dedicate so much of her time to it, and according to Grace, riding has developed Stuckmeyer into who she is today.
“[Lauren] has grown into a confident individual and fierce competitor because of her love for horses and her work ethic,” Grace said.