Throughout most of her life, Hollins University senior Macy Carman has naturally blended leadership and sportsmanship. But lately, the environmental studies major from Billings, Montana, is going the extra mile to strengthen those inner qualities.
Carman first started taking riding lessons at the age of four and three years later became a member of Pony Club, a youth equestrian organization that serves more than 100,000 members in over 30 countries. “Pony Club is dedicated to developing young people as riders, leaders, team players, and teachers,” Carman says. “It focuses on responsibility and building good character as well as becoming good horsemen and women.”
In 2010, Carman was elected to the National Youth Board of the United States Pony Club (USPC). When the youth board chose her as chair in January 2012, she not only went on to design a campaign, appear on a radio show, and meet with groups of the British Pony Club, she was also nominated and elected to the USPC Board of Governors.
“That’s been the most exciting thing. Going in, I didn’t know how much I would be able to do as a youth member, but the rest of the members of the board have given me so much opportunity to have a real say.”
Carman’s dedication to her sport is a big reason why she’s earned such a prominent role in the USPC. After spending two years on the Hollins riding team, she decided to concentrate on three-day event riding, or eventing, one of the most demanding disciplines of equestrian competition. “Eventing is the triathlon of horse sports,” she explains. “The first day is dressage, where you ride a set of prescribed movements and are scored by a judge. The second day is cross-country, which is what eventing is best-known for – galloping over terrain and jumping natural or fixed obstacles. The final phase is show jumping, a course of stadium fences in an arena. It was originally designed as a test of discipline, bravery, and stamina for military horses.”
While Carman mostly competes during the summer months because of her academic responsibilities the rest of the year, training for eventing is a year-round job. “My horse is stabled about 15 minutes away from campus and we train six days a week. It’s an investment of time and financial resources, but it’s important for his fitness and my fitness.”
In addition, Carman has worked for international eventer and Pan American Games Gold Medalist Michael Pollard, and served as a groom for the U.S. eventing team during its trip to Holland during the fall of 2011.
Hollins’ Batten Leadership Institute has also had a profound influence. “I’ve always been classified as the leader, the Type A personality who took over group projects,” Carman notes. She admits to having been “a little dubious” at the outset about what the program could teach her. However, as a result of Batten, she says she has discovered the tremendous value in playing a supportive role. “I’ve learned to delegate, trust, and support others and realize that I don’t have to do everything, to look at a situation and not take over. It’s important to balance those things.”
One of the approaches Carman says she has learned in Batten that is helping her meet her responsibilities within the USPC is taking a “balcony perspective” when performing her board work. “It’s stepping back and saying, ‘What’s happening here?’ That’s fairly easy to do in the classroom but much harder when you’re in a situation with real results on the line. But just having the awareness of needing to look at the overall picture is really important. You have to look at how the board itself is functioning and what you need to change to get the results you want, rather than just focusing on the results themselves. Batten has helped me to prioritize and put the focus on the process rather than the product.”
While deeply committed to equestrian competition, the USPC, and the Batten Leadership Institute, Carman has still found time to serve at Hollins on the Senior Legacy Committee, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and in the Office of Admission. She also enjoyed what she calls a “life-changing” adventure, studying abroad her junior year in London and interning with the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. The trip culminated with a solo trip to Scotland, where she hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano that’s the highest point in Edinburgh. “It was the most liberating experience of my life. It’s given me a whole new perspective on who I want to be and where I want to go from here.”
Carman is now applying to architecture schools with the hope of embarking on a career in sustainable architecture. The encouragement she has received at Hollins has given her every confidence she will succeed.
“When I went to Holland last year, it was very short notice, just 48 hours, and it ended up I was gone eight days during midterms,” she recalls. “But my teachers, they knew me, they knew I could catch up, and they were so supportive. That’s the thing I love the most about Hollins, everyone wants to make it work. I could not do everything I do if I wasn’t at Hollins.”