Abbie Hopkins, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM), is a Skyhawk through and through. Her love for warm weather and passion for horses brought her all the way from Seekonk, Massachusetts, to Martin to join 43 other student athletes on the UTM Equestrian team. Not only does she compete in both equitation on the flat and equitation over fences, but she’s head of horse care on the team’s leadership committee, which means she makes sure every horse is prepared for the show ring on meet day. She received countless accolades in the 2018–2019 season in equitation on the flat, including an All-United Conference award and several MOPS, and is looking forward to continuing her success this season with the Skyhawks.
Why did you choose UTM?
I knew I wanted to be in the South. I am from up north and I definitely don’t love the cold. I visited a few schools, and immediately fell in love with UTM’s campus. Coach Megan was really nice on my tour and I knew then that that was where I wanted to spend the next four years.
Describe a day in the life of an equestrian at UTM.
Three days of the week we have weight training. After weights, we go to class until it’s time to practice. We practice three times a week and the days depend on each girl’s individual class schedule. Personally, if I’m not on a horse or in class, I’m in the library studying and doing homework. I try to go to sleep around 10 p.m., if I can. That depends on my homework load or if I need to study for an upcoming test.
What is a goal that you have for yourself or your team for the 2019–2020 season?
So far, I’ve had a solid first couple of meets in both flat and fences. I want to continue that success, and continue to support my team in any way I can. I’m looking forward to the team working hard and pushing for a conference ring in the spring. We’re looking to be back at Nationals this year, as well.
Do you have a favorite horse at UTM?
Finn! He is the love of my life. He’s one of the jumping seat horses here, and my absolute favorite boy. I always get really excited when I get to practice on him.
Do you have any advice for junior riders looking to ride in college?
I would say tour the campuses and meet the coaches. Gather as much information as you can not only about the teams you’re interested in, but also look for schools that will push you academically and offer majors that interest you. I will say, you need to be prepared for a lot of work. Being a student athlete is not easy, and the equestrian team is no exception. I love it more than anything, but being on the team means having a lot of early mornings and late nights. Freshman year will be very different than you expect, but it’s all worth it at the end of the day.
What is your favorite part about being a student athlete at UTM?
I love the horses! Any time I get to spend riding makes everything else worth it. I also love the support and friendship that come with the team. Having a group of girls who want the best for you, and vice versa, is so rewarding!