Off the field, these athletes don’t horse around

by Gabe GilsonStaff Writer

Simpson College has always had the reputation of having individuals that thrive for competition, but some Simpson students take their competitive nature to a different field. That would be the field of horse and cattle shows.

Simpson juniors Heather Akes and Lauren Schroeder do just this during the summer as they spend their time away from college showing their animals.

Akes, who plays soccer at Simpson, has been riding horses since the age of three and has shown quarter horses in many states across the Midwest.

She has done so well that in 2007 she won the title of National Snaffle Bit Association World Champion in her class. She finds the horse shows as ways of staying competitive off the soccer field.

“The thing that I enjoy the most is that it’s extremely competitive but also easy on my body,” Akes said. “For me it’s downtime from soccer, but I still get to stay competitive. I also enjoy getting to spend time with Austin.”

Akes’ boyfriend, sophomore Austin Walton, has been involved in helping set up for the shows by grooming and preparing the horses.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of time is put in,” Walton said. “You put in a lot of hours, which makes the results rewarding at the end.”

Akes owns and shows three different quarter horses, which are pleasure horses, meaning they do not sprint but ride slowly. She also owns a baby Philly that is six months old. In the summer she rides horses every day to keep the competitive edge.

Schroeder, who has been showing Angus cattle since the age of nine, is in her last year of showing at the junior level. Her family owns 110 cows, 35 heifers and 20 bulls at Schroeder Angus Farm in Clarence, Iowa. Schroeder was born into cattle showing with many family members who also show cattle.

“I’ve been around it my whole life because I have two older brothers that show,” Schroeder said. “My parents did it when they were young and it’s something that my brothers and I have grown into.”

In the summertime, Schroeder shows at many competitions across the state of Iowa. These competitions are in preparation for regionals and then nationals. Schroeder has shown cattle in nine different states all across the country as well as at the Iowa State Fair annually.

Among her biggest honors include winning Miss Iowa Angus for the 2006-2007 year and having the 2001 Reserve Grand Champion Bull at the national level. “I enjoy it because it is a great leadership role and you get to meet tons of new friends,” Schroeder said. “It is a great experience every year but a lot of hard work.”

The hard work by these young women outside of school is a way to have success that not every Simpson student could achieve.

“I know that this kind of work is something that not everybody could do,” Walton said.