Lessons from the barn
It’s an unspoken rule: every student or group of friends has a “spot” during finals week. This is the place where they drink coffee, stare blankly at computer screens, pull their hair out over text books, and occasionally (depending on how late it is) break down into hysterical laughter.
Most Denisonians choose to cram at tables in the library, a lecture hall in Talbot, or study lounges in residence halls. But senior Julia Boss ’14 is different.
Boss could be found this past May taking her finals in the corner of a barn. Why? With only papers to write, the dressage rider from Traverse City, Mich., left school early for a competition at Majestic Farms in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I was sitting against the side of the stall typing and thinking ‘Why did I think this was a good idea?'” she says.
Her unconventional study methods paid off in the end, however. Boss’ score in the competition, in combination with her scores of four other shows, sent her to the 2013 FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships over the summer.
The Young Rider Championships is a weeklong competition held in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. There, equestrians ages 14 to 21 from the U.S, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean Islands compete in several disciplines, including show jumping (horses are guided over obstacles like fences), dressage (demonstrating a horse’s obedience, flexibility, and balance), and eventing (riders’ average scores in a variety of events including dressage and jumping).
Boss and her horse San Remo placed 22nd out of the field of hundreds of the best riders in North America. In doing so, they qualified for the Festival of Champions, a national championship for American dressage riders, where they were ranked 12th in the field. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my horsing career,” she says.
Boss has been riding horses since she was 9. Initially, it was a way to spend time with animals. “I never watched cartoons when I was little,” she says. “I just watched Animal Planet!”
From her first time riding a horse, Boss quickly fell in love. “I told my mom one night, ‘If I could spend all night [with the horses] I would.’ So she ended up dropping me off after school and picking me up at 9 or 10 at night,” she says.
This devotion transferred to high school where Boss began to split her time between Traverse City High School and Wellington, Fla., where she trained with U.S. Olympic Bronze medal team member, Michelle Gibson.
It was during this time that Boss bought her current horse, San Remo, a Hanoverian breed from Germany. Standing at 17.3 hands high and weighing in at around 1,500 pounds San Remo was first owned by a European company before Gibson bought him. Boss bought the horse from Gibson and has loved him since.
When talking about him, she can’t help but smile. “The love of my life!” she says. “He is an amazing being.”
San Remo currently lives at Redtail Ridge in New Albany, Ohio. Boss makes the 15-minute drive every day to ride, groom, wrap his legs, and (on occasion) feed him a banana from Curtis Dining Hall. “He’s a big fan of those,” says Boss.
Boss and Remo will not be competing this fall, and she has declined her spot at the Festival of Champions because it lands on finals week. “This is my senior year and it was between that competition and graduating,” says Boss. “My entire day, diet, my everything was dedicated to succeeding during Young Riders. I couldn’t put that time in right now.”
Boss, a psychology major and art minor, hopes to pursue a job in equine therapy. “There are so many different dimensions to equine therapy,” she says. “You can help people with confidence issues, psychological issues, and self-esteem, too.”
As someone who suffered from a lack of confidence when she was younger, Boss wants to give others the chance to find their voice through riding. “I attribute what I am and who I am to horses. They’ve taught me to accept me for me and so many things about just being,” she says. “I want to give that to others.”