Kacey Tucker is a 17-year-old young rider who is a rising senior at Andrews Osborne Academy (AOA), a co-ed day and boarding school in Willoughby, Ohio. Kacey has been a student at AOA for two years. Her dad works in Saudi Arabia, so Kacey and her family have lived there for several years.
“I have two horses there, a Thoroughbred and a Romanian Warmblood,” she says. “My little sister, Melissa, rides them now.”
Schools in Saudi Arabia end at the ninth grade, so many American families based there send their kids back to the United States to continue their education.
Kacey’s older sister, Amy, was already a student at AOA, so after looking at a few other boarding schools, Kacey decided to join her big sis at Andrews.
“I wanted to go to a boarding school with a horse program,” says Kacey. “And Andrews Osborne had a really nice barn.”
Kacey’s barn in Saudi Arabia was surrounded by the desert so she and her friends had lots of land to ride on. “There were even cross-country fences to jump,” she says.
Kacey has a horse in the United States too. He’s a Belgian Warmblood named Winston, and Kacey boards him at AOA.
“I mainly do hunters and jumpers with him,” says Kacey.
We caught up with Kacey while she was working a summer job in Montana and asked her a few questions about what it’s like to live at a horsey boarding school. Here’s what she had to say:
Did you look for a boarding school where you could take a horse?
Definitely. I had dropped my sister off at AOA several times so I was familiar with the campus and the barn.
Who settled in at AOA more quickly, you or Winston?
It took a while for both of us to get used to cold weather. I had lived in Saudi Arabia and Winston came up from Florida. I think we both settled in at about the same time.
My sister was already here and two of my school friends from Saudi Arabia were here as well so I felt at home pretty quickly.
Do you live in a dorm?
Yes. You list your interests and preferences and the school matches you up with someone they think you’ll like—you don’t get to choose your roommate. My roommate last year wasn’t horsey, but she was really nice. Some students live in single rooms.
What’s your daily schedule like?
On weekdays, I go to the dining hall to have breakfast at 7.30 a.m. School runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. I go to the barn at 3.30 p.m. and stay there until about 5.30 p.m. Then I head to dinner. Sometimes I have free periods during the day and I run out to the barn for a quick ride. I try to ride every day.
Do you wear britches and boots to the dining hall?
What are your favorite classes?
I really like science classes. I took A.P. chemistry last year for fun. I think I’d like to work in the science field one day.
What’s the barn like at AOA?
The barn is pretty big. There are two heated indoor arenas so you can ride in all kinds of weather. The barn can hold 60 horses.
I normally take two lessons a week and I just hack around the other days. I take lessons from the school’s head trainer Michael Rheinheimer. Because I’m a member of the school’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team, I also take lessons from our team coach Bernie Villeneuve.
Members of the team can ride the school’s lessons horses every day. So, even if you don’t own a horse you can do lots of riding.
Do you show at all?
Yes. The barn holds a lot of A-rated shows, and I usually compete Winston in the children’s hunter division. Sometimes I travel to shows with my coach. I’ve been to Pennsylvania and New York with Winston. There are also several schooling shows here.
When I compete with the IEA team, I ride the school’s lesson horses or the horses at the other schools. I really enjoy the IEA shows. Last year we went to California with our coach and competed at a school out there. It was a lot of fun—and kind of exciting.
Do you look after Winston?
He’s on full board, but I groom him and ride him.
Are all of your friends at school horsey?
I have both horsey and non-horsey friends. My non-horsey friends like to come out to the barn to visit Winston.
What do you do on the weekends?
One of my best friends is a day student, so sometimes I’ll stay at her house. But, AOA offers lots of activities each weekend. You can go to a shopping mall or to the movies. There are also special trips to bowling alleys and to theme parks. I ride on the weekends too.
Why do you like going to boarding school?
Before I came to AOA, I thought it would be hard being so far away from home. But having my horse with me and being able to ride regularly has definitely made things easier for me. It’s kind of nice to be independent. Going to boarding school makes me feel more prepared for college.
You can visit Andrews Osborne Academy’s website at www.andrewsosborne.org.