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Sophomore drops swim to pursue happiness

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After swimming for most of her life, MJ Arnold decided to quit in her sophomore year. MJ quit swim in late June 2017 and started riding again in Dec. 2017.

She rode horses at Vogt Riding Academy until her parents took her out of the program because of the cost and focusing on swim.   

“Swimming was okay at first, and I was really good at it. I qualified for and competed in the Southeast Senior sectional meet in Nashville, Tennessee,” Arnold said.

Arnold gets ready to dive into the Southeast Senior Sectional meet.

Arnold swam at Dekalb Aquatics for four years before switching to Dynamo swim club for a year. Arnold traveled to Northern Divisional Championships at 13 years old.

Eventually, she started hating swimming but continued to put in the work.  Arnold was swimming at an Olympic level, along with two practices a day and maintaining good grades. Arnold missed having quality time with her sister, Sage Arnold.

“MJ had swim times that at 14, could get her into any college she wanted to free. I think that is why our parents pushed her so bad,” Sage said.

Now, she travels to Snellville to a private barn where she has her 21-year-old black and white paint horse named Spirit.

Arnold puts a halter on JD and Lady for a trail ride.

“When I learned that I’d be able to ride again, I immediately started looking for barns and opportunities,” Arnold said.

Finally, Arnold found a small local barn where she met a barn manager who helped her get back into the saddle in December. In late December soon after starting riding again, Arnold received a job at the dynamo swim club teaching kids how to swim. She uses the money she makes to buy tack and everything she needs to take care of and ride her horse.

Arnold rides at least 3 times a week to ride, play with her horse and train the foals. Along with being back into the saddle, her relationship with her sister, Sage has grown.

“When I used to vault and she would ride we would have a lot of fun, and now that we ride at Holly’s together it is so fun to bond with her and go on trail rides, etc,” Sage said. 

Arnold and Sage play with the horses all day long and ride all the horses at the barn. Sage loves that she can spend time with Arnold now.

Photos courtesy of Arnold

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About the Writer
Aven Downs, Author
Aven Downs (class of 2020) is a hardworking and dedicated student and athlete. She plays lacrosse, cross country, and horseback riding. She enjoys eating Ben and Jerry’s dairy free ice cream and hanging out with her friends. Along with spending time at the barn riding all of the horses, she is an advocate for veganism...
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