The rhythm of her heartbeat is replaced with the sound of hooves hitting the ground. The judges disappear; now it is just Lucy Chapman, a senior studying biology, and her horse, Frankie, fighting for a win against all obstacles.
Throughout Chapman's life, she has always had a strong passion for horses, from pony rides in California to competitive horse shows all the way in Oklahoma.
Her devotion to horses is what drove her to take lessons since she was around six years old. Chapman credits the sport with breaking her out of her shell.
"Having a horse working with me just gave me the confidence to go out and do these things," Chapman said. "That was something I hadn't really felt before, so that's why I'm so passionate and I love it."
In August 2023, Chapman was awarded World Champion at the National Snaffle Bit Association's Novice Amateur Trail. The trail is a type of class in the NSBA World Show, an annual horse competition that took place last year in Oklahoma.
Generally, Chapman enters into two classes with her horse: western pleasure and trail. According to Chapman, western pleasure is when the announcer calls out actions they want the pair to do, such as walk or jog. Trail involves clearing multiple obstacles and patterns.
Competing in horse shows, such as NSBA, means she is constantly training or caring for Frankie. With showing being one of her main priorities, it can be hard to make time for school.
Fortunately, Chapman is able to pursue both her passions for riding and science with ASU Online, allowing her to work around her training, show schedules and travel.
"I do ASU Online because it just allows more flexibility for traveling for horse shows, especially for the world show because classes started the day I flew home," Chapman said.
Despite the advantages of being online, managing a STEM degree and a sport can become quite difficult.
Before she worked with Frankie, Chapman previously had two horses that she purchased, and both passed away due to health problems. Afterwards, she stepped away from trail for a bit — until she met Frankie and tried trail with the horse.
"I go in, and I haven't shown trail in a while. I'm rusty, and (Frankie's) new at it, and I go in and ... I placed really well," Chapman said. "I'm like, 'Okay, I love this horse. This horse is getting me back into my favorite event.'"
Chapman trains at the Kail Quarter Horses barn. According to Ryan Kail, one of her horse trainers, Chapman is very "diligent about her schedule," and she is caring for the horses two to three days every week, "like clockwork."
"She puts in the work, and I think that's the main difference maker, she's very consistent and routine about what she does," Kail said.
Kail also said that Chapman trusts and listens to her trainers, and she respects their expertise working with horses. This is another trait that has contributed to her success.
Aside from her dedicated work ethic, she’s made it this far with the help of her trainers, family and barn community.
"They're all my trainers and they've just helped build my confidence and build my skills so much that I couldn't have done any of this without them,” Chapman said. “Then, of course, it's my family, the constant support. When I was upset at NSBA I remember texting my mom and dad like, 'I'm stressing out, send me virtual hugs!'"
In moments of panic or nervousness, her family is always by her side to aid her along. Chapman’s community is what keeps her continuing her passion for competing without becoming burnt out. It is also what drives her to choose the shows she rides in.
"It's just a community that I feel always supports and congratulates, and you're happy for each other," Chapman said. "It's literally a family."
Not only does she have supporters, but riding horses gives her the chance to step out of the chaos of life and college. According to Chapman, competing with her horse provides her with an outlet when she gets stressed about school.
"They used to have this saying back in elementary school, like a bucket," Chapman said. "You fill it with all the good stuff, and then you take the bad stuff out. I felt like my bucket would be full of all my stress, and then I just sit on the horse and it just all disappears."
Kristi Perea, a friend who also competes with horses, said Chapman embodies the thought of "never giving up." Whenever Chapman puts her mind to something and focuses, she has the ability to achieve anything, which is a trait harnessed from taking care of horses for so many years.
"You are never going to be super talented the first time you start to try something, but you have to be brave enough to try, and I think horse showing can translate into any sort of class or career you want to get into," said Perea. "You have to have the desire, but it's okay to not be perfect at it."
Competing and caring for horses and studying biology is what Chapman finds enjoyable, and she emphasized that her support system has facilitated her success and dedication to balancing it all.
"There's so many people who were involved who made this possible for me, like other riders in the Kail barn, family, my previous trainers and friends," Chapman said. "I couldn’t have done it without their love and support."
Edited by Katrina Michalak, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.