Shelby Murray is one of our Homeschool Academy Students that just finished up her 10th grade school year. Like many of our students, she works hard in all areas of her life. Shelby has taken it one step further and become an absolute rockstar in the sport of Three day Eventing. She was recently ranked Number 1 in eventing at the Junior/training division by the United States Eventing Association, USEA. We had to learn more about Shelby’s rise up the ranks and what keeps her motivated to do her best in her sport.

Shelby’s mom, Julie, has loved horses her whole life. It seems that the love of horses and discovery of the sport came from her! They got involved with the US Pony Club when Shelby was 9 years old, and have been a part of the organization ever since. Through the Pony Club, learning to ride a horse is just one aspect that you’re taught. Kids learn everything there is to know about a horse, from its hooves to its ears. They also learn how to properly care for a horse on their own.

“Children learn all aspects about a horse including it’s genetic defaults, nutrition, diseases, anatomy…. The Pony Club fully encompasses the whole gamete of owning a horse” Julie said. “It starts with basic stuff, but now Shelby is one level from being at the top of the Pony Club’s horse management pinnacle A rating.”.

Every rating that Shelby has surpassed has been earned. In the upper levels national raters come and test both her riding ability and horsemanship knowledge.

Shelby started out at the Fallbrook Pony Club, where future Tokyo 2021 Olympian Liz Halliday-Sharp got her start as well. Shelby’s family has since started their own Pony Club, San River Downs, which they saw was needed for Shelby in order to progress further in the sport. “She has her own motor and I’m just helping to guide her engine” mom said.

On top of being nationally ranked in her sport, Shelby is an awesome student and also works part time as a working student at Swift Ridge Eventing. She has a great head on her shoulders and is thinking about her future. Shelby has a goal of becoming a dental hygienist so she can make a living for herself and continue with Equestrian as her hobby. She’s also working on her gold award for girl scouts and is a part of the national charity league with 500 volunteer hours logged over the last four years.

We asked Shelby’s mom how she took the news about being ranked Number 1 in her Junior/training division.

“She’s super humble and just happy that she gets to ride. Her main horse Sonik was injured a year ago, he had to have surgery and just came back for a show one month ago. So every ride that she gets to ride with her horses is a gift to her. Another horse she rides is Reverie. This horse is not easy, but Shelby rose to the occasion and they’re doing fabulous. It’s unusual for anyone to get 4 first places in a row in eventing. She could have done much more showing and earning points for the leaderboard, but she didn’t want to possibly injure the horse. She said it’s not worth it and she wants what’s best for the horse”.

Check out this video compilation created by Shelby of her past riding competitions with her Horse, Reverie GWF.  

That is where her horsemanship knowledge comes into play. On top of riding her horse, Shelby is there every day feeding, wrapping, exercising, grooming the horse, completely taking care of it as it is her responsibility. She knows what it’s like to take care of a sick horse and understands what over-activity can do to them, so she refrained from showing too much. Being a part of the Pony Club and continuing her education in horsemanship has taught her a lot more than just being a passenger on a horse.  It’s a delicate dance between horse and rider, the ultimate partnership in a very challenging sport.

There are some Homeschool Programs that do not recognize Equestrian as a sport, which is why Shelby found a good fit with Elite.

She is able to get an unmatched education through Elite and Mr. Shirley and through the US Pony Club. The flexibility of Elite’s program allows her to fit her riding and horse-training responsibilities in when she needs. It also allows her to teach younger kids in the Pony Club about riding and horsemanship.

“She’d love to help anybody who has any questions. She teaches horsemanship as part of the upper horsemanship rating responsibility and she also does it for the love of it” mom says.

Shelby is always looking for the next step, which is why she recently started looking into the different aspects of eventing. Eventing is described as the equestrian triathlon and is extremely rigorous. There are three phases: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. Shelby is looking into shadowing  cross country course designers/builders and learn more about that phase, which is the most dangerous. But her background in this sport has prepared her for taking this next step.

We have no doubt she will succeed in this event, just like she has in everything else. Shelby, thank you for choosing to Be Elite and representing our school so well!

If anyone is interested in joining the Elite Equestrian Team or would like to learn more from Shelby herself, please email our Community Coordinator, Kiley Allen kallen@eliteacademic.com