Discipline teaches equestrian’s Holly Carter to achieve American dream

Senior Holly Carter poses for the camera. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Danielle Skinner | Reporter

After taking the leap from Canada to the U.S. to attend college, senior western rider Holly Carter said her peaceful and fun sport built relationships and taught her lessons through Baylor’s equestrian team that will last a lifetime.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Carter said she begged her parents to put her in lessons; when she was 12-years-old, she finally got what she had always asked for.

What her parents thought was going to be a phase turned into a lifestyle. Carter was able to turn her horseback riding hobby into something that would take her much further than she ever imagined.

“Going from a sport that is almost completely individual and going to a team sport is a very difficult transition for a lot of people,” Carter said. “I originally felt that I was well equipped with my background playing ringette and softball, yet it still was a big adjustment. The atmosphere was very different and having the entire responsibility of student-athlete life, like reporting for workouts, lifts, class, meetings, compliance, and still finding the time to enjoy your college experience and life can be a lot.”

The structure of an equestrian athlete at Baylor is dominated by work, competition and professionalism. Learning the discipline that came from being a college athlete has taught Carter lessons she said she wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

“Being able to learn to get up early morning and be excited and happy to continue your day and be attentive to details is something I have learned and value,” Carter said. “But it’s also learning to be methodical and holding myself accountable, which has been huge and that is all due to college athletics.”

The framework set up by Baylor has allowed Carter to picture herself in the medical field. The rigorous academic setting in a medical school is similar to what she experiences daily. Carter said she wouldn’t have learned those things if she were a student at a Canadian university.

Carter said the opportunities presented to her in Canada were limited and would have most likely been the end of her equestrian career. Due to her having to travel extreme distances to compete in the Canadian Show Circuit at a less advanced level, Carter said she most likely would have sold her horse and stopped competing.

“The Canadian Show Circuit is significantly less competitive than the American Competition Circuit,” Carter said. “So, being able to be a part of a team in the U.S. has opened up opportunities for me in the future. I have met so many amazing people, my coaches and my team and those are lifelong connections in a lifelong industry, which is irreplaceable.”

One of Carter’s teammates, senior jumping seat rider Maddie Vorhies, said Carter has been a positive influence on the team and she sets a great example for both the underclassman and the upperclassman.

“She stays dedicated in school, puts in hard work in workouts and in practice, and offers to help tutor in classes she has taken,” Vorhies said. “Holly also has a very uplifting and infectious personality. She always has a smile on her face and knows how to make anyone laugh. You can always count on Holly to brighten your day.”

Vorhies said she believes the team has helped Carter grow into the person she is today. She said Carter has always been responsible, committed and hardworking.

“Her personality shined through and she left an amazing impression on everyone,” Vorhies said. “She is now someone that continuously speaks up in meetings and has constructive ideas to add to the conversation. It has been amazing to see her grow and develop these past four years. I am excited to see her carry these skills with her in her next stage of life.”

Carter has taken her chance at Baylor to learn from others around her and has taken her out of her comfort zone.

“I do wish there were opportunities like this in Canada because I think college athletics is just a great program that provides a lot of opportunity to a lot of young athletes,” Carter said. “I don’t think it would have been a deal breaker even if I had been given this opportunity in Canada though because knowing what I have here now, I wouldn’t ever give that up.”