Nyah Kim: A Horseback Riding Champion

Nyah Kim, Westminster junior, and her passion for the unique sport of horseback riding

Soccer, baseball, football; these are the games you most likely think of when you hear the word “sports”. Horseback riding doesn’t usually come up. But for one Nyah Kim, junior, this unique and difficult sport is a big part of her life.

Nyah Kim, horseback riding ever since the age of six, noted that she always had a particular fondness for horses. However, “as for the sport I took a while to really find a passion for it,” said Kim, explaining that “when you first start riding it can be hard to get over the fear factor. I struggled with it not even 2 years ago.” 

One aspect of riding Nyah Kim has discovered a love for is that unique relationship and bond between rider and horse, one made of dependency upon each other, and also one of the reasons horseback riding is a difficult sport. “The horses can feel every small detail about how you’re feeling. If I feel anxious or angry my horse can feel that and they get anxious as well. You have to be so in tune with each other,” the Westminster student stated. “But I think that’s also what makes riding so rewarding. […] You don’t get that [relationship] from any other sport.”

As can be gathered from the co-dependency of rider and horse, horseback riding is a difficult sport- more difficult than many people know, according to Kim; “Part of our job, so to speak, is to make it look like we aren’t really doing anything. In reality it is both physically and mentally very challenging and there is so much technicality involved. When we go over a jump we are thinking about at least 15 things at one time to set up the next jump.” But Kim also enjoys that the sport of horseback riding is a challenging one and says the knowledge that “your whole performance can be sabotaged with one mistake” pushes her “to do better every time.”

And push herself she has. Nyah Kim has competed in many competitions recently, and won her fair share of them: “From December 2020 to August 2021 I competed in 5 shows, each 1-3 weeks in length with my horse Calvin. I spent Spring break this [past] year in Gulfport, Mississippi, and won a championship in my division,” Kim said. At these competitions, participants jump for four days in a division and the scores from each day are add up. Whoever has the highest score wins the championship. During that week Kim also won the Classic, which is a “separate class that includes all ages. In Colorado I was reserve champion and had another Classic win. This past summer I spent a week in Mason City, Iowa, 3 weeks in Colorado, and I’m headed to another week in Des Moines, Iowa on August 11th,” said Kim. She also won champion in Des Moines, Iowa, that took places over August eleventh to fifteenth. 

Despite feeling accomplished over these wins, the junior has lately tried to keep a different mindset when she competes, one that values hard work over winning. “Even if you try your hardest and give your best personal performance, someone can always come and beat you. So I try not to focus too much when I don’t win, because that’s not really what it’s about. If I have a really good round with Calvin and I don’t win, I don’t worry about it too much because I did my best, and that’s enough,” Kim stated. Kim said she tries to find a balance between working hard and taking the work seriously and having fun as well, and believes she has found that perfect balance in the past year.  

Nyah Kim has been making her way in the unique sport of horseback riding and hopes to keep pursuing her passion for many years into her future, stating that her “biggest goals for the future are definitely to ride on a team and continue to compete throughout college. Eventually I would like to try and become a professional rider and open my own training facility. I will also continue to show a substantial amount through this upcoming school year.” 

Westminster will watch as she hopefully does exactly that.