RALEIGH — Tory Hoft is used to it being just her and her horse.
Involved in equestrian competition since she was 8 years old, the 17-year-old signed a national letter of intent Monday to ride equestrian at Auburn.
I love showing, but I also like spending time with the horses because you develop relationships, Hoft said.
She doesnt like to pick favorites, but Hoft said she enjoys working with Alando, a warmblood she has been with for about a year.
When it comes to her college of choice, however, Hoft doesnt hesitate.
She was immediately drawn to Auburn, which won national equestrian championships in 2006 and 2011, because of the schools family atmosphere.
Family has played a large role in Hofts development in the sport, which has become a lifestyle for the Hofts.
When their oldest daughter developed a love of horses and the other three girls quickly followed suit, Phil and Kim Hoft decided to move the family from Raleigh to nearby Rolesville four years ago.
We kind of decided as the herd grew that we had to buy a farm to maintain our expenses, Phil Hoft said.
The Division-I athletic scholarship will make Hoft a part of a team next year, something her parents see as a new opportunity.
Shes used to it just being her and her horse, Phil Hoft said. Now she can be a part of a team sport, which is kind of neat ... and they expect them to maintain the same routine as the football players or other student-athletes with study hall and workouts.
Hoft signed in front of friends and family at St. Davids School, where she was a student for three years. Now she is enrolled in online classes, which allows her to travel and compete on the national equestrian circuit.
She competes in 15 to 20 events each year and has won top ribbons at shows along the East Coast and qualified for all of the major equestrian finals this year.
Shes put in a lot of commitment and effort, said her mother, Kim. Shes out there every day. If its rainy, if its cold, if its hot she set a goal and achieved it, and were so proud of her.