U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An Air Force Academy cadet won first place at the Sunrise Farms Equine Show in Fort Collins, Oct. 27, notching her first victory after little more than a year of riding.
“I was so excited. It was really nice to see all the hard work at the barn pay off,” said Cadet 3rd Class Megan Craven.
Craven had limited access to horses in her suburban hometown of Vienna, Virginia, and began working with them in her freshman year when she joined the Academy’s Equestrian Club.
In just her second show, she won the Cross Rails category for her age group. Riders competing in cross rails perform a series of jumps in a diagonal pattern and are judged on form and horse control.
“This club has developed me so much as a rider and a cadet,” Craven said. “It has taught me a lot about responsibility, because we are the ones taking care of these horses every day, and it has brought me a lot of confidence. Horses can be scary, they’re 1,000-pound animals, and you have to have confidence to ride them.”
Craven hopes the poise horse riding brings her will benefit her if she is selected for pilot training, one of her biggest goals for attending the Academy. She said she knew she wanted to serve in the military since she was 8 years old.
“Megan is dedicated to this team and it shows through the hours she puts in. If there are chores that need to be done, you can find her down there helping out,” said Cadet 3rd Class Noor Khan. Khan and Craven will be co-captains of the club next year.
Equestrian club cadets participated in three shows this year after taking a break from competition the previous year. The cadets would like to join the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association and compete against other colleges. Craven and Khan would like to grow the club’s membership and increase the number of available horses to ride.
Their show season picks back up in the spring, but for now, Craven is content to work at the barn and continue to improve her riding.
(Jennifer Spradlin is the public affairs representative for the Cadet Wing at the Air Force Academy)