Student Athlete Profile: Equestrian Rider Samantha Burke

Equestrianism is a sport that often goes unnoticed in college, especially when larger teams like football or soccer dominate the conversation. But two of BSU’s riders are proving that it can still be a mane event. Senior Samantha Burke and junior Emily Desmond recently advanced to the IHSA Zone One Championship, which was held at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. At Zones, Burke finished third with her first horse, Jubilee. She also was in a competitive class with her second horse, Tex and needed further testing. Her third horse, J Lo, placed fourth. Desmond rode Nat and placed tenth.

In an interview with The Comment, Burke said she has been riding horses since she was nine years old. One day, she was in her elementary school nurse’s office, and she heard about the nurse’s daughter being an equestrian rider and asked how she could do the same. Burke learned to ride at the Creek Crossing Farm in Hingham and said that the older girls there “took me under their wing.” She was also interested in doing field hockey and almost joined the Weymouth High School team but stuck with equestrian. 

Originally on the team at URI, Burke transferred to BSU during COVID. She stated that the equestrian team was a big part of why she chose BSU. The team practices twice a week, and they’ll go on different horses to familiarize themselves with what they could ride on at events. Personally, riders also work out, although she joked that “it’s hard to tell since part of our job is to look pretty” while on the horse. Burke is an intermediate competitor, the second highest of the three levels, which is for more experienced riders. The horse and rider work as a team to get through the obstacles and put on a good show. Burke’s best show was at her most recent regional, and due to that performance, Burke, alongside Desmond, moved on to Zones.

As for her plans after graduation, Burke wants to move on to Tufts University and specialize in veterinary care, specifically small animal emergency. When asked about what message she has for current and future riders, she says to have fun with it and be open to constructive criticism from teammates. She also says that riders always have the chance to fix things and that the rider should not let a bad ride get them down. The team is recruiting for next year since there are some seniors. No experience is required, so even if you’ve never ridden before, Burke’s advice is to give it a chance. Students can visit the team page on bsubears.com and reach out to Head Coach Christine Murphy c28murphy@bridgew.edu.

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