Hoffman Signs Letter of Intent to UT Martin

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Senior Kenna Hoffman signs a letter of intent for equestrian at UT Martin.

Every year, a handful of seniors sign with colleges to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. Students go on to play many sports: basketball, football, volleyball… but senior Kenna Hoffman is planning to compete in college in a sport not many participate in: equestrianism.

Kenna’s love of horseback riding goes back many years.

“My mom and dad grew up riding horses, so they put me on a horse when I was about two and I just fell in love with it,” she said.

Next fall, Kenna won’t be leaving horseback riding behind. Instead, she’ll be attending the University of Tennessee Martin to further her equestrian career.

“I was going between volleyball and riding, and I’ve always said since I was little that if I have to make a choice, I would choose riding,” she said.

When she was about six years old, she began competing in equestrianism. Today, she competes in hunter jumper and equitation. Equitation is judged on the rider, and hunter jumper is judged on the horse.

“I travel around to Oklahoma and Iowa and some other states, and I competed in Maclay Regionals and medaled [at] regionals,” Kenna said. “[My biggest accomplishment was] making it to regionals. You have to get a certain amount of points to get there, and so it was a big sigh of relief when I finally met the points.”

Riding horses doesn’t only help Kenna win awards and qualify for competitions. It also helps her form bonds with the animals.

“I like the bond you form with them,” she said. “You can form a connection with them while you’re riding them.”

Kenna’s sister, sophomore Maddie Hoffman, has been riding horses with Kenna for around 12 years.  She attests to the bond Kenna has with the horses.

“When my trainer has horses that are being bad, she puts Kenna on them, because Kenna knows how to fix the problems,” Maddie said.

Dealing with misbehaving horses is the most difficult part of riding for Kenna.

“I hate hitting them or anything, but you have to get after them,” she said.

Knowing how to communicate with horses is crucial to Kenna’s success.

“It’s more of a team sport than you think. If it’s just me riding, you would think, ‘Oh, it’s all individual,’” she said. “But really, the horse has to be there for you too. If the horse isn’t there, then you both fall, or if I’m not there one day, then we fall.”

After a few months of weighing the pros and cons, Kenna decided last year that she wanted to ride in college. Her sister, Maddie, plans to do the same in a few years.
“I hope that I’m a point rider as soon as I get there. [That means that] my freshman year, I’ll get to actually ride in shows instead of just at practice,” Kenna said. “And [I hope] that I continue to make the school better.”