Equestrienne Saddles up For Cal Poly

Stereotypically, athletes are sweat-drenched, drooling thugs who spit and growl, but senior Amira Shaban is not the average. A horse-lover with dazzling skills and bright hopes for the future, Amira’s name “cantered” into the vocabularies of state-wide equestrian judges at this year’s California Dressage Society Championships.

“When every girl is little, she wants a pony,” Amira said. “So I guess I was just pushier than other girls, because in second grade, my parents said ok, and I signed up for horse-riding lessons.”

Amira has been riding for 10 years, but it was not until her sixth that she bought a horse of her own.

“I loved riding so much, and after a while, I had proved to my parents that I was responsible to have my own horse,” Amira said. “Then I got [my horse] Katanya, and we’ve been riding together ever since.”

Amira rides every day for three hours during the school week, and four to five hours on weekends. She performs in an event called “dressage,” in which athletes are given a series of movements that they are expected to complete gracefully and in front of judges. Occasionally referred to as a “horse ballet,” the event requires a lot of control and concentration. Additionally, Amira enjoys “jumping around” with Katanya in her free time.

“We don’t jump while we’re in competition; it’s just for fun,” Amira said. “In fifth grade, I broke my neck during a jump. My dad didn’t let me jump for two years after that, but now we do a little of it for fun.”

Amira plans to attend Cal Poly: San Luis Obispo next year and ride for their club team, which, she says, is highly regarded in equestrian society. She is especially excited about being able to bring along a special friend.

“Cal Poly is really giving me a lot of opportunities in the horse riding world,” Amira said. “Katanya is coming with me, and I’m sure we will have a bright future [in the sport].”