10 questions with sophomore equestrian Alessandra Costalonga

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SUBMITTED PHOTO: Alessandra Costalonga

SADDLED UP. Soph,ore horse racer Alessandra Costalonga rides around on her horse. “I’ve always loved horses since I was little,” Costalonga said.

What made you want to start racing and when did you start?

“I guess my mom who loves horses. I’ve always loved horses since I was little. I don’t think I would’ve been into it if my mom didn’t really like horses, because she had one… I started when I was 5 or 6, but that was when I just went to the barn with my mom. When I really started was probably like a year and a half ago I want to say, maybe two years ago was when I actually started doing it.”

Where and how much do you practice?

“Valiant stables, like once a week usually, with class and then I sometimes ride on my own.

Describe your shows. When was your most successful one?

“You present your horse and there are different classes, so sometimes the horse has to look good or you have to look good. They’re judged on the way the step. [My shows are at] the U of M and the state fair grounds. And the state fair grounds was probably my most successful show. It was successful because we practiced, and practice makes perfect.”

What is the hardest aspect of being an equestrian?

“You kind of have to “man-handle” some of the horses. Some of the horses are kind of arrogant. You have to have a connection with them for them to actually do what you want them to do.”

What skills do you think are the hardest to master?

“Cantering, depending on the horse can be hard. [Cantering is] when you ride the horse, they step a certain way so that when you sit, you don’t post, which means continually sitting up and sitting down. So it takes a lot of leg muscle for sure. It does depend on the horse, if the horse is being difficult, then it’s difficult.”

What is the most rewarding part of being an equestrian and why?

“Just getting to be around horses. Just being with horses that you like to ride. My favorite horse’s name is “terrific.” He’s a world champion, but he’s old now so he’s retired. I think that’s what makes it really fun.”

What type of horse racing do you do?

“Saddle bred, like saddle-seat. And the horse I ride is an Arabian.”

Have you ever been injured from this sport?

“Twice, I fell off once because my horse started cantering and it was when I first started and I didn’t know how to canter and I was posting and I fell off. And the second time, my foot wasn’t in the stirrup and I had to turn my horse, but when I turned him, I fell off because I leaned a little and you’re not supposed to. So I fell off and I hit my leg and I had a bruise on my leg.”

What was the best moment from your whole career?

“I went trail riding with a couple of my friends because they have a couple of horses, they’re insane and I was riding one of the bigger horses and he started cantering and I was holding on for my dear life because it was when I first started riding, but it was really fun.”

What have you learned and taken away from riding?

“You have to remember a lot of stuff, like the tac and everything and you also have to know what horse you’re riding, they’re not all the same. It takes a lot of memory and skill and you have to feel the horse.”

[In Print] This story is reprinted from The Rubicon print edition: Oct 24, 2017