During the spring of my senior year of high school, I came to Centenary to register for classes. I sat down with my advisor and she said, “You will have Heather Clark for your riding class.” My eyes widened because I had heard that Heather was a tough riding teacher and there would be a lot of no-stirrup work. I soon learned that Heather was not as tough as I had heard, although there certainly has been a lot of no-stirrups work over the past three years.
Professor Clark grew up riding and has worked with top riders including Nona Garson, Linda Langmeier, and Andre Dignelli. She came to Centenary in 2007 thanks to her friend, Michael Dowling, whom now she coaches the IHSA team with. She loves teaching at Centenary because she feels she is helping out the industry by producing well-educated professionals. She also has her own business, HLC Stables in Whitehouse Station, where she trains beginner through advanced riders in all three rings. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys playing with her dogs.
It is very clear just how much Professor Clark enjoys teaching her students. She gives each student her full attention. Even when riding in a group of seven students, she makes you feel like you are the only one in the ring. If you are struggling with a part of your course or a certain concept, she will spend as much time as it takes until you make a breakthrough. She says that what makes her job rewarding is, “seeing her students succeed and achieve their goals, whether that’s in the show ring or at home.” She makes you want to please her. You want to put a 110 percent effort in because you want her signature “Yessss, that’s it! Perfect!” She puts so much effort into making sure you have all of the right tools and confidence to do well, no matter how difficult the horse is to ride. Not only is she a knowledgeable professor and instructor, but also an extremely trustworthy individual. Professor Clark always knows what is happening with her students and is a great listener if you need someone to talk to in or out of the ring.
Now, I am the first to register for the classes Professor Clark teaches and I ride with her in my spare time so I can learn from her experiences. It is evident she really wants to share what she has learned and works hard to get you to where you want to be. “Yesss, that’s it! Perfect!” is what I will always strive to hear from Professor Clark!