Abigail Tibbits, a senior equestrian rider from Fountain Valley School, will continue her career in Western riding with the Division 1 University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) Equestrian program in the fall.
Since age seven, Tibbits’ journey from Midwest farm life to the competitive arena has been marked by unwavering dedication and passion for the equestrian world. "Riding horses is not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle," says Tibbits, emphasizing the deep-seated connection she has nurtured with horses since first learning to ride bareback.
Riding horses is not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle."
—Abby T. ’24
The equestrian culture runs through her family's veins as well, with a legacy of farmers and a strong affection for ponies passed down through the generations. At Fountain Valley School, Tibbits found a platform to foster her love for equestrian sports, allowing her to ride five days per week throughout the School’s three athletic seasons. In addition to being an active member of Fountain Valley’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) English/Hunt Seat team, Tibbits has extended her Western riding to the Aspire Equestrian Team in Parker, Colo., where she specializes in Reining.
Her Western coach, Bridget Rohde, lauds Tibbits’ diligence and responsibility, attributing her success not only to remarkable riding skills but also to her willingness to tackle the less glamorous yet essential aspects of horse care. Her achievements, which range from winning at the IEA national level to competing in National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) shows, underscore her dedication and skill in the saddle.
After receiving multiple offers from various D1 universities, Tibbits meticulously assessed her options before finding a perfect fit within UTM. The university's focus on agricultural science, coupled with its ideal location between Nashville and Memphis, ultimately influenced her decision to sign. She also eagerly anticipates working under the guidance of 2022-23 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Coach of the Year Kim Leiter-Janes, who likewise shared her enthusiasm for Tibbits’ commitment. “We are pleased to welcome Abby to the UT Martin Equestrian family,” stated Leiter. “Abby is a well-rounded horsewoman, and we are excited to see what she will accomplish during her time here at UTM.”
“Abby is a well-rounded horsewoman, and we are excited to see what she will accomplish during her time here at UTM.”"
—Kim Leiter-Janes, UTM Equestrian Head Coach
Fountain Valley School (FVS) is home to more than 60 horses and welcomes both English and Western riders representing all genders and skill levels—from competitive and experienced to never-before-ridden. Riding, the oldest athletic program offered at FVS, began with the School’s inception in 1930, as students learned to work with ranch horses and animals to complete their daily chores. Today, the School’s English and Western riders proudly compete in the IEA, attend lessons five days per week after school, benefit from an indoor and outdoor riding arena along with 1,100 acres of open Prairie, and learn the value of horse management.
Founded in 1930, Fountain Valley School of Colorado is a boarding and day school for grades 9-12. Situated on 1,100 acres of rolling prairie in Colorado Springs, the School provides a rigorous, global curriculum in academics, arts, athletics and the outdoors to develop young adults who are courageous, open-minded, self-reliant, curious and compassionate. Enrollment is approximately 240 students from 23 countries, 21 states and the Pikes Peak Region.
www.fvs.eduPHOTOS & CAPTIONS:
▲ Photo: Abby’s parents Suzanne & Daniel Tibbits pose in FVS’ Julie & Spencer Penrose Athletic Center after Abby's offical signing.