Taking The Reins

Natalie Lindmark learns to balance horse back riding with academics


Starting high school is scary for everyone, even if they’re going to go to school with the same people they have been with for years.

Freshman Natalie Lindmark was homeschooled during the seventh and eighth grade due to how often she travels for her out of state horseback riding competitions. Her family initially got her interested in horses, specifically her mom. Although her mom didn’t compete, Lindmark has her mom to thank for first getting her introduced to riding.

“She rode but never competed,” Lindmark said. “So, I was the first one in my family to start competing. My entire family loves horses but I’m the only one who competes. I fell in love with it.”

Lindmark knows that finding a way to plan out time for school and riding  is an essential.

“Trying to balance horses with school has always been a struggle. This (riding horses) is my livelihood and something I will be pursuing after high school so it does take advantage over school at times,” Lindmark said. “Although I try to balance the two as best as I can.”

She went to Lakewood Middle School in sixth grade but then was home schooled for the rest of middle school. Now she’s came back to public school for something that she couldn’t get from online school.

“I came back to have a normal high school experience for at least one or two years, before either continuing with a public or private school or going back to online so I can continue to travel around and really take advantage of my last years as an amateur before pursuing a career as a professional.” Lindmark said.

Lindmark travels across the country year-round for the competitions.

“Nationals are in Oklahoma,” Lindmark said. “I have horse shows in Ohio, Kentucky, and a lot of other places. My favorite one is in Scottsdale, Arizona in February.”

Lindmark rides English, a form of riding that’s based on elegance and balance. She rides saddle seat with Arabian horses that essentially trot high and walk in circles. With Arabian horses, equestrians have to be sure to find a barn that has what they’re looking for.

“With Arabian horses, a big thing is traveling to different places and different barns just to find one that’s the best fit for you,”Lindmark said.

Finding a barn that’s right for you is done by deciding if you want to ride competitively and participate in competitions. When Lindmark first started riding she started at a small barn in Kansas City. When she decided that she was ready to start competing her and her parents found a barn in Knoxville, Tennessee that’s highly competitive. She has friends who have barns all around the country who have to travel far too.

“My friends that are also at these types of barns (highly competitive competition barns) have barns in places such as Ohio and Indiana. It’s kind of your only option when you want to be competing very highly.” Lindmark said.

During Lindmark’s visits in Knoxville she rides significantly more than when she’s in Kansas.

“When I go down to my barn I’m practicing 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. When I’m here I ride about seven hours a week.” Lindmark said.

Competitive horseback riding has given Lindmark the opportunity to meet and make new friends that have turned into best friends all around the country.

“I’ve made some great friends here at West but honestly my best friends are definitely all around the country,” Lindmark said. “I meet them through competitions when I get introduced to a bunch of people.”

While Lindmark loves that she has friends across the country and how many different opportunities she has to meet new people, it can still be difficult to be separated from them.

“Having friends all over the country is one of the most amazing and saddest things because you don’t get to see them a lot,” Lindmark said. “It’s cool to go and visit them but it’s definitely hard.”