Alumna is Olympic Hopeful Horse Rider

While Florida A&M alumna Shayla Wilson, from Orlando, is beginning her path to the horseback riding division of the Olympics, she stops to give thanks to FAMU and use her gift to inspire and help others.      

“My life is completely upside down,” Wilson said. “I am doing everything I ever dreamed.”

With her goal set for the 2012 Olympics, Wilson says she is not stopping till she reaches the top.

“I will keep riding till I reach the point that I can no longer ride.” Wilson said.

Wilson has always had a passion for riding, but she enjoyed her experience at FAMU. 

Wilson is taking a head-on approach to furthering her success and reaching the Olympics.

“Once out of school, I want to train to get to the Olympics,” Wilson said.

To place herself on the right track, Wilson has qualified for many top competitions.

“If you asked me three years go if I’d be going to Switzerland,” Wilson said, “I would have said I’d like to.”

Wilson is headed to the Switzerland AIEC-SRNC (Association Internationale des Etudiants Cavaliers) Competition at the end of April.

“It is sometimes seen as the hardest college level competition.” Wilson said with enthusiasm. “I have been doing double time on work outs and I am excited to go.”

According to Onyx Magazine, Wilson has enrolled in the highest level training program available and has earned a key spot on the Dressage Association.      

With such concentration in stadium jumping and dressage (horse training), Wilson believes horse training is like dancing.

“It is a bit like ballet because of the level of difficulty to learn technique.” Wilson said.

Wilson said her lack of wanting to play with dolls started her love for horses when she was 4 years old.

“My mom noticed my interest when I watched TV and was drawn to horses,” Wilson said. “She decided to take me to ride for my birthday and it was supposed to be a one time thing.”

Wilson’s coach Jacque Gellein said not only is Wilson a natural athlete and rider, she is a genuine person.

“Her work ethic is impeccable. She is someone you can always rely on,” Gellein said.

Even though Wilson spends countless hours training for competitions, she stays busy with the other important activities in her life.

“I am currently enrolled for 21 hours at Virginia Intermont College,” Wilson said. “I work out twice a day and stay active in community service.”

Wilson has always had a passion for riding, but she enjoyed her experience at FAMU.

While at FAMU Wilson said she was trying to find herself and commit to something she enjoyed, but riding was always strong in her heart. Encouragement from her professors has led her to Olympic goals.

“I want people to know they can do this, especially African Americans,” Wilson said.

In the future, Wilson hopes to establish a riding school for students who have a hard time balancing school and training.

“School sometimes can be a problem for riders,” Wilson said. “Maybe a riding school can give scholarships so people can focus on both riding and school.”

By the end of the year, Wilson plans to begin the Shayla Wilson Foundation to spread the knowledge of horses and the history of horseback riding.

Wilson is starting the foundation in order to inspire others.

“Most people work out of ‘it’s sensible,’ but the answer is just do it cause you want to.”

Although Wilson is ready for her Olympic dreams, she makes it a point to begin her legacy. It is her goal to still encourage others.

“Get to know yourself,” Wilson said. “No holding back. Whatever you have a passion for will push you.”