In Megan Huber’s sport, she only has one teammate. And that teammate is often around 6 feet tall, and weighs about 2,000 pounds.
The Saugus student-athlete and her teammate hurdle obstacles and run in circles. Huber competes in equestrian and her teammate, Mac, is her horse.
“I would say that it’s a great way to have peace of mind. It’s an amazing stress-reliever and you get attached to animals,” Huber said. “Like there’s no other feeling than having a giant teammate that, they’re like giant dogs.”
Huber began equestrian when she was 8 years old. Her mom had wanted to take up horseback riding to fulfill a childhood dream and when she went to take a look at a barn, Huber fell in love and instantly gave up dance, gymnastics and soccer for the chance to ride a horse.
“I used to think of it as a hobby until I started competing, and I’m a very competitive person, so that just drove me to become better and stronger,” Huber said.
She worked with her trainers’ horses until she was 15 years old, then leased a horse named Astaire (after Fred Astaire, the dancer and actor) and took complete ownership of him after the lease was up.
Astaire suffered a leg injury in February, however, so Huber is riding Mac, her mom’s horse, until her own is healed and ready to go.
Huber is a hunter jumper, which she explains as “the kind that jumps over fences.” She and her horse are judged on their appearance, specifically, when hurdling obstacles and then compete in a “flat” component, where Huber and her horse walk, trot and canter on a flat surface and are judged on the execution.
‘It’s like the pageant land of horses I would say,” Huber said. “We’re supposed to look as pretty as possible and flawless as possible.”
She’s achieved division champion honors at the Santa Barbara National Horse Show and at two other events at Verdugo Hills, along with a handful of other reserve champion titles.
Her most recent accomplishment, however, has been an NCAA Division 1 scholarship. Huber has taken her love for the sport to the collegiate level, signing her national letter of intent with University of Tennessee, Martin, on Nov. 14.
Training out of Oak Canyon Equestrian in Newhall, Huber also travels out of the area to go to summer camps run by colleges. She went to two run by Auburn University, another run by Texas A&M and finally one run by University of Tennessee, Martin.
“It was very home-like,” Huber said of UTM’s camp. “They were very welcoming and all that stuff, so I decided they were my favorite and ever since then, I just emailed the coaches like any other sport with updates on what I’m doing.”
Even though Huber went through a recruiting process similar to most athletes, her friends were still surprised when she showed up at Saugus’ signing day ceremony in November. She could represent Saugus in competition, but the school doesn’t typically recognize equestrian as a sport.
“I had a few friends that were in there with me, but not everyone knew that equestrian was a collegiate sport,” Huber said. “So I was definitely getting a few looks because people didn’t believe me.”
But with only 17 schools that offer Division 1 programs in equestrian, Huber was happy to represent her sport.
“It was really cool to get acknowledged for the work that we put in,” she said.
Huber plans to focus on preparation for her career as a nurse practitioner in the near future, but still wants equestrian to be a part of her life.
“I’m going to go right into my major and just focus on all my schooling and work,” she said, “and if I happen to pick up horses again once I have a solid job, then that’s my dream.”