Rose rides for Liberty

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2020

By Barbara Boxleitner

Years of leisurely horseback riding became relevant for Alyssa Rose in college.

Despite lacking formal training in horsemanship, the Smithfield resident is in her second season as a member of the Liberty University equestrian team, a club sport.

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The junior entered this season competing in the introductory equitation class, like she did last year, at Intercollegiate Horse Show Association events. She is trying to earn enough points to advance to the next class.

“She’s improved tremendously,” Liberty hunt seat coach Suzanne Flaig said. “She has been a real asset to us.”

Actually, Rose filled a team need.

She was enrolled in a Liberty riding class when she heard that the equestrian team needed someone to fill an opening in the beginner class. So she joined the team and competed in introductory equitation, which she said is basically for riders to have the horses walk and trot.

“I took two lessons when I was about 8. I haven’t been on a horse for anything other than trail rides,” she said. “It’s such a new world for me to be in.”

Without the experience many peers have, she has held a realistic yet encouraging outlook. “I’m going to go up there and try my hardest,” she said. “I’m going to give it my all.”

That approach was rewarded with top finishes in consecutive fall 2019 events. Rose earned a red ribbon by placing second at an event co-hosted by Liberty and Randolph-Macon College.

At the next event, she earned a blue ribbon by finishing first in the introductory class. “When they said my name first, I think I was surprised. I didn’t move,” she said. “It was so awesome.”

Her parents, Anne Rose Wright and Rusty Rose, have shared in her accomplishments. “They come to all my shows,” she said. “I usually had the biggest family cheering section.”

Likewise, her coaches and teammates were happy for her. “That was very exciting,” Flaig said about the top placements. “They do improve so quickly.”

“We’re so proud of the work she put in,” the coach said. “She really stepped up to the plate.”

Though she doesn’t have the saddle time that teammates do, the coach cited her temperament. “Your demeanor often can carry over to the horses,” she said. “Her quiet patience and dedication. She has a really nice way around the horses.”

Flaig said the key going forward is for Rose to be “able to ride different horses effectively,” for her horses in competition are selected by a draw.

This fall, Rose has been working to build strength in her legs, including riding without stirrups, to increase endurance.

“I’m gaining confidence,” she said. “It’s been so cool to see that I do have something to bring to the team. It’s been quite the experience.”