Hitting the High Notes and Taking the Reins

By Emily Snyder '21, December 10, 2020
First-year vocal performance major also competes as an accomplished equestrian.

As soon as Alexa Rahman '24 is dismissed from her last class of the day, she gets ready to practice. But if you listened to the vocal performance major practice, you wouldn’t hear harmonic notes, but the clip-clap of a horse’s hooves.

Rahman’s practice takes place at the Rolling Oaks Morgan stable in Gansevoort, N.Y. where she practices hunt and saddle seat riding with her three horses. In between taking online classes toward her degree, Alexa is continuing to pursue a lifelong passion of hers — competitive equestrianism.

Rahman, who has been riding horses for 15 years, said that the competitions create an immersive learning experience.

“You're...learning things about life, because you have to be responsible with horses and be willing to take risks.”

Alexa Rahman '23, on taking part in competitive equestrian

“You’re improving yourself and the horse in a riding sense,” she said. “But you're also learning things about life, because you have to be responsible with horses and be willing to take risks.” 

When the coronavirus pandemic caused Rolling Oaks to temporarily close last spring, Rahman wasn’t able to ride for a month, which was the longest break she’s ever taken from the sport.

She was able to get back in the saddle not long after that, however, and this past October, competed in the Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show, finishing in fifth place, riding a horse that she had only practiced on once before the competition.

Since 2011, when she first competed at the Grand National and World Championships, Rahman has collected two world titles and five second-place finishes.

Rahman rides a trio of horses, two of whom, Baxter and Nate, hold grand champion statuses for winning more than 30 blue ribbons.

Her first semester at IC has required maintaining a tricky balance between musical performances and riding, but she says she’s enjoyed it. In fact, when students return to campus and club sports begin, Alexa hopes to compete with IC’s club equestrian team.

“Ithaca College allows me to do more than just music, and sing more than just classical. And that’s great.”

Alexa Rahman '23

“I'm really looking forward to meeting other people on campus who are into horses,” she said.

When she’s not at the stables, Rahman, who last June finished in second place at the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society’s 23rd Annual Vocal Scholarship Competition, plans to further immerse herself in the offerings of IC’s renowned School of Music.

In addition to the chorus she currently sings in, she plans to join the jazz vocal repertory ensemble in the spring semester.

“I've always been really interested in singing jazz,” she said. “But until now, I’ve never had the teachers or opportunities to do it.”

While some parts of the remote learning experience have been challenging to adapt to, Rahman is grateful for the opportunities provided to her.   

“Ithaca College allows me to do more than just music, and sing more than just classical,” she said. “And that’s great.”