Hold Your Horses: Poly’s Equestrian Athletes


Summer Hornbeck and Anjali Budhram

While Poly prides itself on its renowned teams and high-achieving student-athletes, many athletes seek opportunities off campus. Even though Poly offers the traditional high school sports, many sports are unavailable due to Poly’s lack of amenities and appropriate coaching. However, curiosity being a pillar of the Poly community, many students pursue obscure sports, such as horseback riding. 

One equestrian, Mia Emy ’23, has been riding since the age of seven. She was introduced to the sport by her older sisters, who took lessons before her. She treks all the way to “upstate New York and more recently in Long Island,” Emy said in an email to the Polygon; she rides monthly “since it’s hard to get anywhere where I can ride, and the closest [place] is still an hour away.” 

Committing to horseback riding requires dedication and incredible effort as it is not easily accessible. Emy’s passion for the sport makes it a high priority on her list.

 “Riding is honestly just kind of exciting, and it gives me an adrenaline boost and a feeling of freedom. I have also just loved being around horses since I was young, so I also love the aspect of taking care of them and everything else that comes with horseback riding, even when you’re off the horse.” The sport goes beyond just the competition, and into the riders’ emotional connection and care for their horse. 

Another equestrian, Aerin Genatt ’24, has ridden since the age of four. She got into the sport because her “mom rode when she was younger, and so did [her] sister.”

Genatt’s dedication to the sport started from a young age. The competitions she partakes in direct her all around the world, including places like Paris, California, Florida, Michigan, Germany, and Kentucky.

“My favorite part of the sport is the thrill. I go nearly 20-30 mph on an animal and jump over obstacles larger than me,” wrote Genatt in an email to the Polygon.

When asked how horseback riding competition works, considering it’s a solo sport, Genatt responded,“I have ridden for about 12 years now and have finally made it to a point where I compete solo and represent my barn. My barn is my team, the other solo riders in the barn as well compete under the barn name.”

On a daily basis Genatt makes her way to Leonia, New Jersey for practice but also rides in Wellington, Florida, Long Island, and Darien, Connecticut. 

Both Emy and Genatt endure unique obstacles, specifically regarding communication with their horse. They both view their biggest challenge is working in unison with their horse without verbalization.

“Most sports are team-based, my sport is solo. I have to find a way to make a horse who speaks an entirely different verbal and physical language work with me,” Genatt stated.

“[Another challenge is] being able to work with your horse because they’re all very different and you don’t really know what methods of riding you’re going to have to use until you get on,” added Emy.


Even though an immense amount of hard work and focus go into the sport, Emy and Genatt feel their efforts are constantly being overlooked. 

“Typically, when people hear about horseback riding they assume it is an easy sport, which it most definitely is not,” noted Genatt. 

Emy goes on to say that the biggest misconception is that horseback riders are “just sitting on the horse and having the horse do all of the work, because for most disciplines of riding the point is that most of what the rider is hidden so you’re giving commands and doing all of these things that are supposed to be as discreet as possible.” 


Emy and Genatt’s love for the animals is apparent, and the element of horses brings a unique aspect compared to a strict and straightforward nature in many team sports.