Whitney Pettersen: I became more involved with it and really just liked the competitive environment

Andrea Meindl

Above, freshman Whitney Pettersen rides her horse, Eli. Pettersen has been riding horses competitively since she was born. "Riding is about how a horse and rider can work as a team," said Pettersen.

“It’s like having a best friend. You understand them and they understand you,” freshman Whitney Pettersen said of her experience horseback riding.

Not many people know about the world of competitive horseback riding, but it has been a part of Pettersen’s life since she was born.

“Riding is about how a horse and rider can work as a team,” Pettersen explained.

Influenced by her mother and grandmother who rode horses when they were kids, Pettersen started riding horses in her barn with a trainer and later moved to ride at Woodridge Farm when she got older.

“A lot of my friends did it, so when I was younger, it was just fun to hang out, but now I just love it in general,” Pettersen said.

Pettersen began to ride horses competitively at the early age of five and hasn’t stopped since. Almost every day, each season, Pettersen has been on the back of a horse, training to get to the level she is today.

“When I got older I became more involved with it, and I really just liked the competitive environment,” Pettersen said.

Pettersen rides many horses, each with different personalities.

“Most of them are sweet, but some of them are cranky. Mine is mostly sweet but very sassy,” Pettersen explained.

Horseback riding is a prominent part of Pettersen’s life and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Once she is 18 years old, which is when she will age out of her horseback riding program, she will decide how to keep pursuing her passion.

For the time being, Pettersen would like to keep horseback riding and competing to win medals for her favorite sport.

“It feels good to win a medal,” Pettersen said, “because it shows your hard work has paid off.”

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