Equestrian standout Belcher off to Georgia
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – When Samantha Belcher isn’t busy with schoolwork, she’s almost surely perched atop a horse. And all the time the Roaring Fork senior’s spent in the saddle has paid off.
On Wednesday, Belcher signed a letter of intent to ride for the University of Georgia equestrian team.
Belcher, a national reining champion in 2008, landed a scholarship to attend the Division I school.
An official visit sold Belcher on Georgia.
“It was really cool how the girls related to each other,” she said. “You’re instant family once you go ride with these girls. I liked that. I also loved their football. That was really big. That wasn’t what decided it, but it just kind of showed me the support the kids have for the school.”
Belcher, who owns six horses, hasn’t strayed far from the saddle since she first began riding as a youngster.
“My mom does the bookkeeping for the ranch up at Cozy Point,” she said. “I got started through that. I started riding with Patti [Watson] like two days a week and, from there, it just started to progress.”
Since then, national shows and a schedule that requires a tireless work ethic have taken center stage in Belcher’s life. She estimates she attends roughly a show a month.
“I miss two weeks at a time to go to these national shows,” she said. “They’re usually like a week long.”
And that’s on top of an intense daily regimen.
“I usually ride four hours a day,” Belcher said. “I ride five to six days a week.”
Reining, a competition in which riders guide horses through a series of circles, spins and stops, has occupied Belcher’s focus since she was 9. She currently works with one of the top reining trainers in the nation – Matt Mills.
Belcher’s reining exploits garnered interest from a variety of big-name schools, including Oklahoma State University, Baylor University and Auburn University.
Before going through the process of selecting a school, Belcher never realized how many equestrian programs were out there.
“It’s pretty big,” she said. “I didn’t really decide to go until a friend, Caroline Daniels – she rides at Oklahoma State – kind of introduced me to the whole thing.
“I thought it was a really cool way to get an education. Since I don’t play a traditional sport, it’s kind of hard to pay for college. Then we found this, sent some videos out and schools were really interested in me.”
While it’s taken loads of work and sacrifice, the effort yielded quite the prize: a scholarship to a Division I school.
“It’s pretty much my main focus in life,” Belcher said. “I like it a lot and I have really strong goals. … It’s definitely worth it.”
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