TIPsters don’t just succeed in the classroom—many have great success in their outdoor hobbies as well. Since we’re looking at how to nurture and protect the natural world this month, we spoke to some TIPsters who spend a lot of time in nature to get their perspective. Here’s what they had to say.
Tell us about yourself.
Ben Crossno: I live on Galveston Island, Texas. Hobbies include sailing, fishing, surfing, jiu jitsu, and piano. My favorite subjects are social studies and creative writing.
Madison Capson: I am 13 years old, and in the 8th grade. I live with my parents and two cats in Highland Village, Texas, just outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I am adopted and being raised as an only child, though I have two sisters and a brother (one biological and two half-siblings) that live with their chosen parents. I attend a private Christian school, about 30 minutes away from my house. As a junior-higher, I have participated in cross country and track, but my real passion is for horseback riding, reading, and learning! I love spending time with all animals, but specifically with my cats, “Demi” and “Grey.” In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out at the barn, grazing and grooming the horses there, and socializing with cats at my local animal shelter. In school, I love all subjects, but I really enjoy science and history the most. I think that if kids today didn’t learn about history, then we would easily repeat history’s mistakes tomorrow.
Tell us about your outdoor hobbies.
Ben: I tried a sailing class and got hooked. Steering the boat and working with others is my favorite part. I live on an island so I’ve been fishing my whole life. My favorite part is catching species of fish that I haven’t caught before.
Madison: Our family moved to Texas from Florida when I was really little, so Texas has become my home. After moving here, I fell in love with the area and all of the open pastures that surrounded my neighborhood. During the summer before 3rd grade, my parents enrolled me in a horsemanship summer camp when I was 8 years old, and I was positively hooked! Initially, I had simply learned how to groom, care for, clean up after, walk, and sit on a horse while trotting. When my parents saw how much I loved being around horses, they signed me up for additional lessons in English riding. Now, I train and participate in competitions for English Hunter in a scholarship circuit, which means that I memorize and jump a course, and show off my equitation in front of a judge. Additionally, I ride twice a week with my trainer, Shann, who helps me with my posture, commands, and effectively communicating transitions with the school horse. My favorite part of this form of riding is the trust that the horse and I share for one another as we go over a jump. I feel completely free when my body naturally moves forward into “2-point”, or jumping position. It’s as if I’m suspended in the air, like I’m flying when we jump an obstacle!
What are you proudest accomplishments with those hobbies?
Ben: When I won a sailing race and I was the youngest kid in the class. Fishing in the Baltic with my grandpa and catching a giant redfish with my cousins in Galveston Bay are my best fishing days.
Madison: I have been blessed to win many ribbons for the divisions that I have entered in competitions, and have even brought home awards for “Champion” and “Reserve Champion” at a few horse shows. I have a colorful ribbon-wall, just outside my bedroom, where I display all of my placing-ribbons. Though I have received many awards for my riding, my proudest accomplishment had nothing to do with a personal-best. During a lesson several years back, the horse I was riding got spooked and raced uncontrollably around the area, causing me to fly off of him and hit my head. The experience caused me a great deal of anxiety and I almost didn’t return to riding, because I was consumed by fear that a similar incident would happen again. After many months of recovering, I finally found that my desire to ride began to override the fear that I felt. With the help of my very patient trainer and a sweet school-horse, named Penny, I was able to work my way back up to the skill-level I had been at when I had the accident. It was a slow process, but I am most proud of myself for not walking away from something that was so important to me.
Do you have any tips for other TIPsters who want to do what you do?
Ben: Just try it out and see if you like it. That’s what I did.
Madison: I would share that anyone who is looking to try horseback riding as a sport should exhibit traits of patience, acceptance, and consistency. Have patience with yourself … it takes time. Have patience with your horse … you are working with an animal that, at times, will display that he has a mind of his own. Accept yourself and the horse/pony for who they are, and their individual personality. Your horse or pony is unique, just like you. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and can sometimes have “off” days, and we should not compare ourselves with others. Remember: there will always be someone that is better than you, and someone who is worse than you. You may not get everything that someone else is getting, but chances are, they are encountering some issue, too. And finally, stick with it. You may not see your progress from lesson to lesson, but over time, you will build a bond with your horse that will enable you to anticipate each other’s moves.
This article is part of an issue dedicated to protecting and appreciating nature. Can you provide your thoughts on that? What do you get from spending so much time in the outdoors?
Ben: It feels good to be outside with your friends and to not be on screens.
Madison: I have found that being up at the barn and spending time outdoors, has given me a feeling of release after a long, chaotic day at school. I can look at my peaceful surroundings, and be grateful for the clean air, the gorgeous sky above me, and the nourishment that the green grass provides my horse. I have found that my favorite perspective comes while viewing my surroundings from atop the back of a horse. When I am outdoors, I feel like my mind and body calms, I take deeper breaths, and I feel grounded by the colors and picturesque views. I have grown to truly appreciate being outdoors, and the delicate balance between humans and the environment. We must protect our environment for future generations to enjoy, and with that, we will also help protect the animals who inhabit these areas and who bring us joy.
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