Freshman Odessa Abeles is an accomplished equestrian, earning a place in several events at the upcoming State Championship for Oregon High School Equestrian. Odessa began riding horses when she was just eight, after watching her sister and fellow SMA alumna, Maggie, ride and compete. When asked about her love of riding, Odessa explains “I love riding because the mental and emotional connections between someone and a horse can be life changing. My trainer has always told me: ‘Knowledge is the paint; your horse is the canvas; you are the artist. Create your masterpiece."

In addition to the love of riding and horses, Odessa says horseback riding has taught her patience and responsibility. When she first began taking lessons she also started working at the barn, grooming horses, cleaning out stalls and helping others care for their horses. This grew into a job, feeding and watering horses, cleaning stalls, turning out horses and more. Additionally, Odessa has spent her summers as a riding instructor at kids camps and occasionally gives beginner lessons. All of this can make balancing her schoolwork challenging. “I have a strong course load and must train every day and am gone every month for competitions.”  Odessa shares that to make sure all her work is completed she uses her time at school to complete homework and assignments so, “once I get home, I can get right to the barn and start training.”

Odessa’s horse is kept on a neighbor’s ranch just minutes away and is grateful it is so near. While she mostly trains alone her trainer comes weekly and once a week, she brings her horse to an arena for team practice. Odessa says her favorite event to ride is the “Working Rancher,” which is “an event in which you must be able to perform tasks that imitate what you would be asked to do while working on a ranch. In this event you perform a pattern which emphasizes the athletic ability and versatility of your horse. You have to be able to move at different speeds, open gates, move cows, navigate obstacles and rope. 

We wish Odessa the very best of luck as she competes in the state championships in Redmond, Oregon!