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Athlete of the Week Q & A: Chelsea Huss

Each week, BRSN sits down for a Q & A session with the Athlete of the Week. This week, we caught up with senior Cornell equestrian captain, Chelsea Huss, following a first place finish in her section of Open Fences to lead the Big Red to High Point in its first show of the season.

BRSN: Chelsea, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You finished first in your section of Open Fences to begin the Big Red’s route to victory on Sunday. What was going through your mind while you and your teammates were competing?

CH: I think after my freshmen year I stopped being nervous for my teammates while they were competing. Everyone has undoubtedly illustrated their consistency to perform their best and win under pressure every time they were expected to, so my nerves are never warranted in that case. The hardest part of our sport is making sure that the horses are also performing at a high level as well. Controlling a 1,200-pound animal doesn’t always go your way so on Sunday. As our riders continued to win and the point spread continued to grow, I got more nervous. The horses can sense when they are competing too, so typically we don’t experience many problems in that regard, but if I have learned anything from my time riding, it’s to never take anything for granted. 

BRSN: How long have you been an equestrian? How did you start?

CH: I started riding when I was 10 after a friend of mine came over to watch a show we had heard about called “The Saddle Club.” After the first episode, she looked me in the eyes and told me if we were to ride like that she would be better, and it rubbed me the wrong way.  

BRSN: Have you always been in the Open Fences division? How do equestrian divisions work?

CH: I came into Cornell as an Open rider. Essentially, you are placed in a division based on your experience prior to coming to college. Once you are slotted into a division, you have the ability to point out into the next tier. However, moving up in divisions is strategically planned by our coach in order to give us the best competitive advantage. 

BRSN: Do you always ride the same horse?

CH: The team hosting each show provides the majority of the horses, and your mount is determined by a random draw held prior to the start of the competition. Essentially, you are going in blind as to who you are riding until moments before you compete. This aspect of collegiate riding is probably one of the most difficult, but the riders on this team have been well vetted and trained to ride anything. If need be, any of the 33 girls on the roster could get on a donkey and make it a winning ride.

BRSN: What are you looking forward to the most for the Big Red equestrian team this year?  

CH: I think I can speak for the entire team by saying that we are all looking forward to the potential of having an undefeated season. And more importantly, making it to nationals again as a team, but don’t get me started on that topic because I could go on for days.

BRSN: What are some of your interests outside equestrian?

CH: To be honest, the words “outside equestrian” do not really exist in anyone’s vocabulary on the team, so my interests otherwise, when I am not at the barn or riding, revolve around sleeping and eating.

BRSN: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

CH: Classically, because I am Asian, my mom made me take Tae Kwon Do when I was younger, and she threw me into this competition and told me not to lose. I didn’t, and I ended up winning a six-foot trophy — it was double my height at the time and, to this day, probably my favorite award. 


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