Zsófia (Zsófi) Németh ’16 conducted a series of interviews with SBS faculty as a member of the Multimedia Club. She is an ASSIST scholar from Budapest, Hungary. Zsófi has been interested in creative writing from an early age. She has been conducting interviews and writing articles for her Hungarian school’s newspaper and website since her middle school years. In addition to being a member of the Multimedia Club, she is co-president of the Literary Society. In her freetime she enjoys dancing, horseback riding, and skiing.
Zsófia Németh: When and why did you start working with horses?
Mina Williams: I started riding when I was 8 years old. That was the beginning. Since then working with horses was all I ever wanted to do.
ZN: What is your funniest experience related to horseback riding?
MW: Well, it was riding a donkey. I was the smallest so I was elected to “try” the donkey out for riding. All was fine until we decided to see if it would jump. The donkey went under the jump and I had to “bail out” by grabbing the jump pole and letting the donkey run right out from under me and under the jump. I was left holding on hanging from the jump pole. We all got a good laugh out of that.
ZN: What do you consider your greatest achievement in the horse world?
MW: I like the fact that I can say I have competed in many different disciplines. I did 3’6″ Medal and Maclay equitation and Junior Hunters as a kid. Then got into Eventing and competed several different horses through the Preliminary level all over New England. Later, I had a horse that excelled in Dressage, so I competed strictly in that for a while and took the horse to top year end honors at 3rd Level in the New England Dressage Association.
ZN: When and how did you first learn about SBS?
MW: When I was in 8th grade my mother found out that there was a riding camp here at SBS. I came with my horse for a two-week camp session at SBS and was hooked on SBS from then on!
ZN: In what ways do you think the riding program of this school is unique?
MW: I have several answers here. SBS allows riders to be at the barn all afternoon after classes and all day on the weekends if they choose to. You can ride during the academic day as well, if your schedule allows. There are so many really nice school-owned horses available to ride and show. Also, the Equestrian Center runs competitions to compete in right on campus.
ZN: What is the principle, the attitude, which you try to teach to the riders at Stoneleigh-Burnham School?
MW: Learn to be the best rider you can be and learn to understand and appreciate the horses as wonderful giving creatures.
ZN: Do you think horses also teach things to their rider(s), which reach beyond the barn?
MW: Absolutely! Horses teach us humans to be patient and to listen when no words are spoken. That can be a helpful life “tool.”
ZN: Do you believe that horseback riding largely shapes the personality of the riders? In what ways?
MW: A good ride or ride that you learned something new, jumped higher than you have or won a 1st place ribbon can boost your confidence both in and out of the saddle. A bad ride can evoke the desire to try harder, and inspire you to learn more and keep at it until you get it right.
ZN: How do you find motivation to keep going?
MW: I got into this career for the horses. I could watch and be with them all day, everyday, but through the years it has become more about the students and teaching them to ride and appreciate the horses as much as I do. That is what really inspires me now.
ZN: What are your goals for the future as a riding instructor?
MW: I, myself haven’t competed in years, and I would like to get back into competing a bit again. It is always helpful to do what you are teaching the students to do. I have a new horse, so we will see what happens!