Rebecca “Becki” Bloom doesn’t remember learning to ride a horse.
“I honestly don’t remember the first time I was on a horse. It is just something that I always knew,” she said.
Ms. Bloom, 51, grew up on a farm in Ebensburg, Cambria County, and started competing in horse shows when she was 6.
She competed throughout her school years and continued while she attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “To me, it was second nature,” she said.
Some might say it is in her blood.
“My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father all were good horsemen, and grandfather made his living in horses,” said Ms. Bloom, of North Strabane.
Ms. Bloom is carrying on that tradition. She has been named the new equestrian coach for Seton Hill University. She also has served as coach for the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State Fayette and Washington & Jefferson College. And, she is the owner of Bloomfield Stables in Belle Vernon and has been a board member for the International Horse Show Association.
She hasn’t always made her living in horses. As a child, Ms. Bloom said she knew she wanted to work in the corporate world after growing up on a cattle and potato farm.
“It just seemed so appealing, wearing a suit to work,” she laughed.
After she completed her bachelor’s degree in marketing from IUP, she had a successful career at Kelly Services, but she felt herself drawn back to the equine world.
“Every dollar and every moment, I had went back into horses,” she said.
Since she was still competing in horse shows, she had contacts and friends in that world, and when an opportunity to work at the BarGee Farms in Allison Park came up, she jumped at it.
Leaving the corporate world in 1994, she started working at the farm and never looked back.
“It was not hard to leave the corporate world, but it was a bit hard to make the leap into a world class training facility. But Barbie Bancroft, the owner, had such a wonderful management process and was such a great mentor, that is was easy,” she said.
Ms. Bloom left BarGee in 1998 because she wanted to travel less, and she started teaching on her own. She opened Bloomfield Stables to train horses and to teach others to ride. Bloomfield Stables will serve as the training facility for the Seton Hill team.
Ms. Bloom also is coach of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Equestrian Team of middle and high school students.
“It is a community team and the students then compete with other teams within our region, then go on to larger competitions,” Ms. Bloom said.
The new opportunity at Seton Hill allows Ms. Bloom to share her expertise with the students at the collegiate level.
“For me, this is an opportunity to work with a university that is so supportive of their riding program,” she said.
Those at Seton Hill share her enthusiasm.
“Becki has incredible experience in the equestrian world. With her experience at the IHSA and her skills in teaching every type of riding, whether it is Western or hunter or jumper, she will be a great asset to our program,” Chris Snyder, executive director for athletics at Seton Hill, said.
Seton Hill is one of only five Division II schools in the country that has equestrian as a team sport.
“Seton Hill has a long tradition in equestrian, and we decided to take it from a club sport to varsity team level to show our dedication to this tradition,” he said, who . That move happened in 2006, according to Mr. Snyder.
Currently, Seton Hill has 13 equestrian competitors and it hopes to expand.
“We are looking at two or three more this fall. That is one thing we are looking to Becki for. Not only will she work with our students and build on the skills they have, but we hope to recruit new students as well,” Mr. Snyder said.
That commitment is important to Ms. Bloom.
“So few schools sponsor and support a team. It isn’t a club sport, it is a team sport and that means they are really committed – that is exciting to me,” she said.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.