Rachel Lin, of Lewisburg, poses with one of the horses she rides at Fox View Farms, Lewisburg.

LEWISBURG — It’s the time of year when most high school seniors are planning for the prom and dreaming of graduation parties.

Rachel Lin has plans and dreams, but not like those of most high school seniors.

The Lewisburg Area High School senior decided to spend the bulk of her final semester as an independent study student while she competes in the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. The 12-week circuit competition began Jan. 13 and ends April 4.

Leaving friends and family was difficult, but her decision was worth it, Lin said.

“I had planned on staying at school during my entire senior year,” she said. “But I know this is a great opportunity for me. I have a lot of friends in Lewisburg that I miss, but I have a lot of friends in Florida too. Being able to be around the horses and ride every day just makes the sacrifice worth it.”

Lin, known affectionately by friends and family as “Biscuit,” always has been focused when it comes to riding horses.

She began at age 3 and started competing at 10.

Through the years, she’s learned from a variety of trainers, including Farra Phillips-Hillyard at Fox View Farms near Lewisburg. She rides for Heritage Farm in Katonah, N.Y., making the 3½-hour trip on weekends beginning in April and moving in with her trainer over the summer.

“I basically train with them, go to (horse) shows and work there throughout the summer,” she said.

During her time in Florida, Lin spends weekdays working and goes to school in the afternoon and evenings.

Weekends are for competitions.

The schedule is demanding and exhausting.

“I know it’s a huge commitment,” she said. “(Riding) always has been. I’ve had to miss holidays and spending time with my family on vacations during the summer … but it will all be worth it in the end.”

Lin’s commitment to her sport has been rewarding. In 2008, she was ranked ninth in the top 10 riders in the Bates Equitation Ranking, and she is 12th on that same list this year. She also has received numerous awards.

She has competed all over the East Coast and as far away as Kentucky.

Lin had planned on this being her final year of competition — until she caught the attention of scouts from Auburn University in Alabama.

“I started looking at colleges with the intention of not riding,” Lin said. “I thought I’d go to school in Philadelphia, where I have family. Then I started thinking about it, and I talked to some of my friends who’d made that decision and really missed it.”

After discussing her options with friends from competitions, Lin decided on Auburn University.

“They’d contacted me about the possibility of riding for them,” she said. “I went down for a visit, and as soon as I was there, I knew I wanted to go there.”

She signed a letter of commitment in the fall and will compete on the university’s hunt seat team. Lin hasn’t decided what she’ll study at Auburn, but is interested in international relations or pre-med.

As for beyond college, Lin said she’d like to have a normal life with a steady job that allows her to have her own horses so she can continue riding as a hobby.

“I used to dream of having my own business and giving lessons,” she said. “But now I think I’d like to have a steady job that allows me to go to horse shows and ride more as a hobby. I don’t want it to be my work. It makes it really hard to have a family and a life outside of horses.”

Lin is the daughter of Paul and Karen Lin, of Lewisburg.

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