CLAYTON — To say Elizabeth Bohn was born to show horses would be accurate, since her mother, Joyce, went into labor with her while announcing at a horse show.
And both her parents, Joyce and father, Rex, grew up riding and showing as kids and were still active when “Lacey,” as she’s known to her friends and family, came along.
The home-schooled 19-year-old from Clayton has signed an equestrian scholarship to attend Texas Christian University next fall, after notching a top-10 finish at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show last summer.
Bohn dabbled in other hobbies before getting into equestrian. She said playing the piano lasted the longest and that she didn’t want anything to do with riding horses until she got into the sport at age 7.
“I think I just wanted to be different,” Bohn said. “But when I was 7, I just decided I wanted to do this.”
Joyce Bohn recalls her daughter liking horses but having no interest in showing. “She mostly hung around the show in a dress with a backpack full of Barbie dolls and books,” Joyce Bohn said. “Then one day she was like, ‘Okay, I am ready to show now.’
“She took right to it and was hooked.”
Lacey Bohn’s interest in the sport meant her parents, still competing nationally, had to make the decision to end their careers to help Lacey compete.
“It is an expensive sport,” Joyce Bohn said, “so we gave it up so she could show.”
Making the move from weekend competitions to receiving a scholarship from one of fewer than two dozen NCAA Division I schools that offer equestrian as a scholarship sport didn’t come without sacrifices. But Lacey Bohn seemed to take more and more to riding every time out.
“It just felt so natural to me,” she said. “It was easy at first, and as I developed my skills more and more, I just loved it. I wanted more and more of it.”
Bohn’s results over the past three years have placed in the top 10 nearly a dozen times between the Hunter Under Saddle, horsemanship and equitation disciplines at the Congress level, the season-ending national event.
Those results caught the eyes of national programs, including the one at TCU led by Kindel Walter.
“She has been really successful at some of the highest levels of competition, including the Congress and AQHYA World Show,” Walter said in a release announcing Bohn’s signing. “Lacey works extremely hard and is the type of student-athlete that will be incredibly successful both in the (National Collegiate Equestrian Association) and at TCU.”
Only 19 NCAA Division I schools offer equestrian as a scholarship sport, the majority in the Southeast or Southwest. The University of South Carolina is the closest school to North Carolina that has a scholarship-funded program.
Nearly 400 more colleges, including North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke, East Carolina and UNC Wilmington, offer equestrian competition in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and basically are club sports.
Being home-schooled allowed Bohn to compete on a national level. Most shows last four days, but some, including the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show, run two weeks.
Bohn will compete from March through October.
Equestrian competition requires riders to complete a precision pattern with the horse. The riders are judged on how well they complete the pattern and their ability to maintain form (correct posture) and control over the horse. The patterns are very exacting.
Bohn’s horse, You Bet Im Sumthin, responds primarily to leg movements by Bohn.
You Bet Im Sumthin will not make the trip to Fort Worth; Bohn will ride horses provided by the school during her TCU career.
Last summer, Bohn finished eighth out of 125 riders in the western horsemanship division at the AQHYA World Show in Oklahoma City.
“It was my very first time there, and it’s not an easy place to be successful,” Bohn said. “You hear about people trying to advance on that show for years and years and not coming close. To be able to go there and finish in the top 10 felt like an unbelievable accomplishment.”
The moment Bohn heard her number called as a finals qualifier at the world show is one she will never forget, she said.
“That was the highlight of the entire thing,” Bohn recalled. “Knowing I’d made it into the top 10. After that, it was all a dream.”
Her finish, and knowing the next four years will be spent as part of the program at TCU competing across the country on a bigger stage, has made Bohn rethink her long-term goals.
“Before the world championships, my goal was to just get there and give it my best shot,” Bohn said. “I always dreamed of becoming a world champion but knew that my chances were pretty slim.
“I don’t think my dream is quite so far-fetched anymore. That’s my ultimate goal. But first I want to be a great athlete for my team during my time at TCU.”
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