When she was ten, Morgan Sowers started training with horses which quickly developed into a passion. Today, she shares that her life’s ambition has stemmed from her lifelong love for her horses.
Sowers has always had a love for horses, even when she was a little girl in daycare. “I just fell in love with the sport and with horses in general,” she said. “I am now 21, and I’m still that crazy over horses.”
Sowers has ridden competitively for the past ten years. “The 4-H Club in Craig has always been a big part of my learning with the 4-H State Championship shows,” she shared.
Sowers currently attends Bridgewater College (BC), where she is enjoying the competitive edge of the sport. “I have been riding for 12 years, and that is part of the reason I chose Bridgewater,” Sowers said.
Jerry Schurink, the Director of Riding and the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) coach at BC, shared that Morgan and seven other girls approached the college to compete as a Dressage team and it was approved.
“Our first year we were sixth out of seven teams in the region. Last year, we were third and this year second in the region, but it was a very close race,” Jerry said.
Sowers added that they support themselves personally or through fundraising, donations and sponsors.
The BC team of four girls went to the Intercollegiate Dressage Association’s National Competition, hosted by Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.
“This is really a dream come true for us,” Sowers shared. “We all rode in individual Dressage tests against other girls all over the USA where only the top students in each region got to go.” Only 12 teams throughout the country were chosen to participate in the event.
Sowers thoroughbred named Duke is her only horse now. “He is my son,” she said with a smile. “He has been at school with me the past three years as well.”
She had two other horses before him, but they are now passed on. “The memories I have with them though, and everything they have taught me is still with me,” Sowers added.
Schurink explained: “Dressage is an equestrian discipline that is performed in an arena with markers on the perimeter where riders are to accurately guide their horses from movement to movement much like what is done in gymnastics or figure skating. Riders get marks between 0 – 10 for each movement and scored accordingly.”
“There are nine regions in the country, and the top school from each go to the National Championships with three-second place schools getting a wildcard entry (the three with the highest scores from the nine regions). There is also an individual competition for riders,” he added.
Morgan is one of three BC students that competed. The team competition is made of four riders, three of whose scores count toward to overall championship score.
Of the twelve teams competing, Bridgewater College riders placed seventh in the team competition at the IDA National Championships, and Sowers placed seventh in the Lower Training team division.
In the individual competitions, there were 20 different teams represented, and Sowers placed 12th in the Lower Training division.
“My coach and friends Reanna Willey, Erica and Blair Jones and my parents back home have helped me to succeed,” Sowers said. “I am forever thankful that they have pushed me to become the rider I am today and have helped with all of my accomplishments.”
Schurink shared that he was not surprised at their accomplishments thus far. “We have a strong equestrian teaching program where our students get better the longer they ride. With good training comes good experience and if riders are taught how and why they get better, they can repeat their performances thus become more competitive.”
Sowers will graduate from Bridgewater in May and work at Virginia Tech where she has spent her last two summers. “I hope to pursue a career in Equine Science, especially with younger horse’s nutrition and growth. “
She added that she was also very thankful for the facilities, trainers and managers at Virginia Tech. “Without their help and support I would not be this far,” she said.