It isn’t every day at Millersville University that you get to meet a rodeo rider. Amid the well-manicured campus lawns and throngs of students rushing to class, is a rare gem. Colleen Hershey, 21, a junior majoring in public relations at Millersville, shows horses for a hobby. She’s an honest-to-goodness seasoned rodeo rider who has been to events all over the country.
“I’ve shown horses in Florida, Wyoming, Texas and Tennessee—the Pennsylvania Farm Show—but I show the most in Ohio. During the summer I show there just about every weekend,” said Hershey, who is a resident of Lancaster County.
“I guess I should explain that when a horse person talks about showing horses, it means you go and complete against other riders,” Hershey said.
Her most recent event was in Texas at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Along with the bull riders and calf ropers, Hershey rode her horse Molly in the barrel race and placed third out of 15 competitors. “A barrel race is where you run your horse around the barrel in a pattern. It’s timed and the best time wins,” explained Hershey.
Hershey’s love of horses came at a young age. Her first stuffed animal was a horse, and one of her favorite pastimes was to draw them. She was on her first horse by age 5 and got her first horse when she was 14 years old.
“My parents signed me up for lessons. No one in my family had any background in horses. They saw I had an interest—I would watch rodeos on TV—and I’ve been riding ever since,” Hershey said.
“I’ve been at Evergreen Farms in Wrightsville [Pa.] riding and training in barrel racing since I was 13. There are world champion barrel racers at Evergreen.”
Currently, Hershey has three horses: Jazz, 6 years old, Molly, 11, and Spock, 14. Spock, the only male horse of the bunch is retired from showing.
“I bought Spock when he was 6 years old, but I’ve had Jazz since she was 6 months old. I raised her,” Hershey said. A plan to mix her love of horses with her career in public relations is not something she foresees.” Showing horses is very much a hobby of mine. For work, I’m interested in PR work in the entertainment industry—the video game industry. That’s really the complete opposite of what people expect when they find out I run horses,” Hershey said.