Equestrian club produces standout rider

Layne Saliba

Senior Lillibet Motion started riding horses when she was just six months old. Not long after that, she fell in love with the sport.

Now she is headed to the American National Riding Commission (ANRC) Championship for the fourth year in a row. While there she will compete in a written portion testing her knowledge of the sport and different aspects of dealing with horses. After passing this test, she will take part in the riding portion.

Known as the founding father of Hunt Seat Equitation, George Morris will be in attendance judging the riders. He is one of the most influential trainers in the equestrian sport. Morris will be able to offer valuable insight to the competitors.

“Getting ready for it is a lot of practicing and it’s a lot of fun. You meet a lot of new people because there are schools from all up and down the East Coast, some from the West Coast. It’s just neat to meet new people and see new faces,” Motion said.

She is the only rider from Georgia Southern that will be going to the ANRC Championship this year and she is very excited. She has worked hard to get there and will be representing the Eagles well.

For her, it all came naturally. Most of Motion’s family is involved with horses at some level. Whether it’s her sister, uncle or her grandparents, there has always been someone pushing her to ride. There was no escaping it.

Many of her younger days were spent riding horses. Originally her mom put her on a horse so she didn’t have to push a stroller. Motion enjoyed it and began fox hunting and riding around for fun. Once she was old enough to start showing ponies she jumped on the opportunity.

However, the main thing she wanted was to always have fun with the sport. She was able to make sure this happened by going to camps where she could spend time with other riders and make friends that way.

Motion has been on her own when it comes to paying for her horses and any competitions that she wants to be a part of since she was 14-years-old. Riding is an expensive sport. She has been able to support her love for riding while attending school, working a job and riding six hours during the school year and 12-18 hours all other days.

“My dad likes to say it’s kept me out of trouble. But I just love it so it’s not a big deal to put in the extra hours,” Motion said.

When she was 13 years old her mom passed away from breast cancer. She had to count on the support of her father and extended family to help her continue riding. Her father was able to encourage her to stick with the sport that she had loved her whole life and to never give up on it.

As a sophomore in high school, she got a concussion after falling off her horse.

“I was just out getting a couple horses fit, just doing some track sets and one spooked and fell in a hole and I fell right on my head and don’t remember six months of that year,” Motion said.

This caused her to have to struggles in school and go through emotional difficulties as well. But despite all of these troubles, she got back on her horse and continued to ride. She is happy that she did because she has been very successful as an equestrian since then.

Motion first attended Sewanee: The University of the South for three years where she was asked to be in the Emerging Athletes Program. She says this has been the best experience yet. This gave her the opportunity to attend a four-day clinic with a big-time trainer where she was able to gain a great deal of experience and knowledge.

“They select 200 people out of a pool of like 1,500 kids that applied. Then they have different trainers, like I trained with Karen Healey for the week. They just come and give us a little more experience and show us what to do,” Motion said.

After a coaching change at Sewanee, Motion decided to move to Statesboro and attend Georgia Southern University.

“I came in like July to just visit and say hey. I ended up at the barn and met the coach and ended up really liking it and within four days I had transferred and decided to come,” Motion said.

Motion plans to become a professional rider soon after she graduates. Her dream is to go to Europe and ride to experience the equestrian culture there. No matter what happens though, she will always have horses around her.