If Kansas State University equestrian rider and Byfield native Larissa Laffey leaves the door open on occasion, it’s because she was indeed raised on a farm.
Growing up on the Evenstride LTD, Laffey has been riding since she was 2 years old and riding for show when she was 4. But her first memory of riding was not what people might think.
“We went to ride the horses on the beach in the winter, and I was on a pony. She stopped at a tidal pool and shook me off into the water,” says Laffey. “I couldn’t have been more than 6. That would be my first memory.”
In true Laffey fashion, Larissa got right back on her horse, or pony as the case may be.
“That’s something I inherited from my parents,” Laffey says of her mother, Olana ,and father, Scott. “If something is a challenge, you keep going and you get back up and you try again.”
Laffey has been trying and excelling ever since, having just been was named the Most Outstanding Player for the month of October by the National Collegiate Equestrian Association for her performances in Equitation on the Flat, a set pattern of maneuvers in a set area where the goal is to execute perfectly.
“I basically ride around the ring in a set pattern,” explains Laffey. “And they will have different movements (set up). Different gates or different obstacles that are difficult to get the horse to maneuver.”
All that is tough enough, but since Kansas State joined the NCAA, the rules have also changed.
“What’s challenging in the NCAA is that you don’t ride your our horses. You ride the hosting school’s,” explains Laffey. “You get on a horse and you have four minutes to figure out how that horse goes, and then you have to show. It’s about getting on a horse and figuring out, right away, its buttons. If something really triggers that horse that you need to avoid, you need to figure that out in four minutes. It can be very challenging. And it can mean the loss of your points for your team if something unexpected goes wrong.”