Sam Bledsoe isn’t horsing around. A sophomore on the College’s equestrian team, Bledsoe began riding since she was just three years old. Since then, she developed into a collegiate athlete. “The hard part about college equestrian is that up until college, it’s all an individual sport. So you’re riding for all your own titles,” said Bledsoe. College equestrian is more oriented towards team competitions. During competitions, riders are randomly assigned a horse to ride, which is thought as the best way to determine who is the most skilled rider.
In 2016, Bledsoe won first place in the Zone Finals for the Walk/Trot/Canter discipline and won sixth place in the Zone Nationals in the same discipline. Disciplines are broken into three categories: English, Horsemanship and Reining. Subcategories include of each discipline walk, trot, canter, novice, fences and flats.
The team has done well this season – finishing in first or second place in four shows. “The great thing about our team is that our coach [Bob Story] doesn’t really focus on grade level at all. I do feel like I am one of the leaders, but then again every single member of our team is a leader because everyone brings something different to the team,” said Bledsoe.
The College of Charleston Equestrian team remains one of the most competitive programs in the country. “The largest misconception about collegiate equestrian is when people believe that it is not a sport,” said Bledsoe. “We hear that a lot from people, just because they don’t really know what it entails. It’s not only the riding aspect, but also caring for the horse.”
Bob Story has been the head coach at the College of Charleston since 1980. “He was someone who was very experienced and he had a great reputation for being a great coach and a great team leader. He has helped me a lot in my development and it feels like I am a much better and more confident rider. He is someone who coaches in a quiet way and gives meaningful comments. I have really benefitted from his coaching style,” said Bledsoe.
Bledsoe has proven to be a passionate, driven person who has aspirations beyond riding horses. She says she would like to have the opportunity to ride after college but has her sights set on life outside of equestrian as well.
“I want to fly the C17’s and after college, I am planning on joining the Air Force. My dad is a pilot and it was always one of those things in the back of my mind,” said Bledsoe. Whether she’s trotting with her horse or taking off of the runway, one thing stands to be true: she is like no other.