In this situation, Laffey relies on a combination of patience and the experience of her upbringing in Byfield where she learned human/animal interaction and communication without words.
“It’s a little different because you don’t have as much time to get to know a horse,” Laffey says of the contrast between her current competitive life and her past. “You only have the four minutes before you go into the show ring.”
The 2009 Triton grad seems to have met the challenge head-on, finishing the fall season with an overall record of 7-2 and holding a perfect 4-0 in October. She also earned two Most Outstanding Player awards and holds wins over riders from Baylor, New Mexico State, West Texas A&M and South Dakota State. Laffey was also key in helping K-State go on a six-meet winning streak from September to the end of November.
“It’s been a really rewarding experience,” Laffey says of her K-State experience where she currently studies chemical engineering. “And it’s been a really different challenge than what I competed in during high school. It’s been different because equestrian is always very individually focused, and it’s a team sport now for NCAA, and that’s a really cool change.”
Until the spring season begins, Laffey will ride her 11-year-old thoroughbred, Hepburn, and will continue to study engineering.
“I always loved playing with building things and figuring out how things worked,” Laffey laughs about her studies. “And I have a really big math brain. Very orderly and organized. Everything has its order (and) riding has really helped (in that) because it has taught me how to communicate with all different people and to really interact and be able to explain different things to different people.”
Whether it be a future in engineering or a future in riding, Laffey knows she can always come home to the farm.
“They couldn’t get me away from the barn,” admits Laffey. “From the moment I left the barn, I would ask to go back.”