UAHS senior and equestrian Bella Donofrio discusses competing in “cowboy country.”


Senior Bella Donofrio is an equestrian who has committed to Oklahoma State University to continue in her athletic career. What follows is an interview with Donofrio about equestrian and what’s next.

Q: What is equestrian?
A: Essentially, it’s horse riding. That’s called equestrian, both for college and when we go to a show.
Q: What events do you do in equestrian?
A: I do the all-around at the quarter horse shows, so I do almost all the events, but then when I go to college, I will only compete in the horsemanship events, [where] you get a pattern before the show and then you have to maneuver your horse through the certain pattern. There’s a judge who scores each maneuver based on how you do and then whoever scores the highest is your winner.
Q: When did you first get involved in equestrian events?
A: I’ve been competitively riding since I was eight, but I was raised around it. It’s a family sport to me because my mom and I share the connection, so I share my horses with my mom. It’s been really nice to share the sport with my mom and it’s kept us close. We go to horse shows together and she comes to the barn with me. It’s a lot of time spent together and doing something we love. It makes it even
more special.
Q: Where did you commit and how do you think that will
A: I’m committed to Oklahoma State University for their equestrian team. I committed last year and signed earlier this year.
Q: Can you talk about what the signing process was like for you?
A: It was super cool to start recruiting. On June 15 of my junior year, I got calls from various schools, and would talk to them and see what kind of opportunities they have. I picked my top five schools that I thought would fit best — Georgia, Auburn, Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor. I went to those five schools and it was really cool to see what they had to offer.
Q: Is it nice having that sense of security now that you’ve committed?
A: It was really nice. I had a lot less stress and I knew I was applying to one school. I didn’t have to write any essays, so it was nice just knowing that I had a school I pretty much secured. It’s also really nice going into school with friends already, since I already talked to my teammates.
Q: Do you know what you’ll be doing there academically?
A: My major is biology with a pre-med path. I’m excited. It’ll be a lot to juggle time-wise, but I think I can do it.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of working with horses? Have you had a favorite horse?
A: I have so many favorite horses. I love all of them. It’s so nice to do a sport with an animal. It’s another connection you’ll always have and the sport shows the bond you can create with a horse, which I think is really cool. You’re not going to do well if you don’t love your horse.
Q: Are you excited to move to a region that has more prominent equestrian programs?
A: Stillwater, where I’ll go to school, is definitely cowboy country. For fun on Saturdays, they go to rodeos or stock yards, so it’s cool because I feel like I haven’t really experienced that living in Ohio.
Q: Do you wear a cowboy hat?
A: Yes. When we compete, we have to wear a cowboy hat.