BOULDER, Colo. -
When you first meet University of Colorado sophomore Kelsey Slusser, her accent belies her roots.
"I'm from Arlington. I'm definitely a Texas girl," Slusser says. "It's great up here and a great college town."
You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl.
And that includes taking her away from riding horses.
The CU equestrian team, part of Club Sports, competes regionally in the Intercollegiate Horseshow Association in the two major riding disciplines -- English and Western.
Slusser is one of a handful of riders on the team who enters events in both of the disciplines -- and she's good.
"I've been riding since I was 2 and showing since I was 7," Slusser said. "I was really excited they had the equestrian team here. I'm really into the outdoors."
CU as a squad has won team high-point and reserve high-point during the season, the equivalent of finishing first or second in other sports.
"Kelsey has won high-point rider at several of the shows," said Lynn Hindman, operator of Haystack Acres farm outside of Boulder and the team's Western riding coach.
The club competes in four different shows every season. The shows have a few different competitions: a simple "rail" show for both disciplines, jumping for the English riders and reining in the top division for Western riders, including Slusser.
"You do a certain pattern. You run'em into a stop and they slide on their butt," Slusser said of reining.
"It's really fun, you get to run around and look crazy and you have the whole ring to yourself."
Her coach has been impressed as well.
"(Slusser's) an excellent rider," Hindman said. "She's pretty comfortable looking elegant and very put together and very good at riding myriad different horses."
Hindman added that one of Slusser's top finishes of the season would have won the show for CU, but for a judge's decision that negated her points.
"Of course by the end of the day we lost by two points, and she earned five points," Hindman said.
Though she's just a sophomore, Slusser already has had a big impact on CU's equestrian club team -- and it's had an impact on her college life as well.
"It was really hard when I came up here," Slusser said of moving to Boulder for school. "I finally found a few groups of people (who) love horses and want to have fun."
Slusser said that's been a key to her with the club -- win or lose, the team has loads of fun.
"You come together, you love horses, you like to ride and you like to have fun and it works out great," she said.
Hindman thinks Slusser is one of the loudest personalities on the team.
"She says it like it is and she definitely adds a spark to the team," Hindman said. "She's kind of the team comedian."
For her part, Slusser doesn't shy away from that.
"People think I'm crazy up here," Slusser said. "I'm just not the quietest person."