At age 17, Nicole Atkins is a determined horseback rider from Halstrom High School in San Diego, CA. The art and discipline of riding horses has been her Natural High since an early age. Atkins has recently competed in a match last February during a six week long show. The horse enthusiast has a message for those who own a horse or are taking riding lessons “no matter how had it gets and how much you want to give up, just keep riding because it is worth it and don’t let anything get in the way of that especially not something at detrimental as drugs.”
Natural High: What is your Natural High?
Nicole Atkins: Riding horses and show jumping.
NH: How long have you been riding horses?
NA: Nine years. I have been competing since I was 10 in shows and competitions and help out with lessons and shows any way I can.
NH: What made you want to start riding?
NA: My friend and sister both rode and I started riding just in a few group lessons and fell in love with it so I started private lessons and showing and never wanted to stop.
NH: Why do you think you made the decision to live drug-free and others don’t?
NA: I saw what drugs did to some of my friends and knew if I did that I would not be able to ride and live the life I want to live.
NH: What do you owe this decision to? What helped you make it?
NA: My horse and trainer and all the people who supported me. Riding horses and knowing I couldn’t do both [drugs], it made me not think twice about staying away from drugs and around horses.
NH: Has anyone helped or inspired you to live drug-free? Who and how?
NA: My trainer and parents because they made me see how much drugs would affect my riding for the worse.
NH: How would using drugs or alcohol keep you from engaging in your Natural High to the fullest?
NA: I have to be really aware of what’s going on and completely with it when I’m riding and drugs would make me distracted and not allow me to enjoy riding to the fullest and do my best.
NH: How were you affected by the Natural High DVD or message?
NA: I think the natural high message was really powerfull and made staying away from drugs cooler and influenced me to stick woth my decision. Any particular stars or quotes that stood out? Lauren Conrad and casadee pope’s messages in NH5 were really influential because of how much people like them are around drugs and in the media and yet they are still drug free and proud of it to.
NH: Do you see horseback riding as your future?
NA: Yes I definitely want to keep riding, as well as other things, but riding will always be part of my future. I will continue to ride in college probably with my same trainer and go to school close to the barn.
NH: What would you tell aspiring horseback riders like yourself?
NA: I would tell horseback riders to stick with it, no matter how hard it gets and how much you want to give up sometimes just keep riding because it is worth it and don’t let anything get in the way of that especially not something as detrimental as drugs.
NH: How would you describe taking care of a horse?
NA: A lot of work. It is definitely a full time commitment but it’s a lot of fun so usually you don’t mind the work.
NH: Would you say riding horses has made you a more confident person? Why?
NA: I think riding has made me more confident in some ways because riding gives me something to focus on and makes me feel like know matter what happens I’m good at at least one thing and I will always have that riding knowledge.