Behind the glory of the football, basketball and soccer teams, a group of girls and one guy are riding their way to the top. I mean riding literally.
The equestrian team is not only getting noticed, but is steadily growing with each year.
As of now, the team has up to 40 riders a semester, a number that has doubled since two years ago.
The idea exists that those involved in the riding world are stuck-up and rich, but UR’s Equestrian Team has been doing all it can to dispel that image.
The team boasts riders of all levels, including first time riders. There are no try-outs for the equestrian team.
Riders are split into three levels in the English style of riding – beginning, intermediate and advanced – and are given group lessons at rock bottom prices. The lessons take place at Lehman Farms, with Gale Lehman as their trainer.
“It’s a really expensive hobby, but Lehman Farms has been wonderful,” Equestrian Team President and senior Rachel Sill said.
The horse farm lets UR’s equestrian team ride their horses and hold eight group lessons a week.
The aim of the lessons is to give every rider a good knowledge of basic riding skills, giving riders the tools to have good positions and effective aids so that they are able to ride any horse well.
Beginners learn flat work – walking, trotting and cantering in different directions and figures around the ring – and learn how to be safe with other riders in the ring.
Intermediate riders have an introduction to jumping. They warm up over single fences and slowly work up from a few jumps to a small course.
Advanced riders, who are expected to have had previous riding experience, work on jumping courses.
Since the current executive board of the Equestrian Team will be graduating, new officers have been elected to take the team to the next level.
Next year’s president will be junior Jessica Mayer.
The vice president will be junior Jennifer Spross, the business manager will be sophomore Zach Swartz and the fundraising chair will be held by junior Simone Sidel.
The Equestrian Team is also a group that likes to have fun and is supportive of all members.
“The team is really great because you meet people who like what you like,” Sill said. “People who are in lessons together tend to bond and become really good friends.”
They even have fun traditions. For example, when someone falls off during a lesson, the team will stop at Krispy Creme on the way home from the barn and buy them a doughnut.
As of now, the equestrian team is still only considered a club sport, but riders are able to participate in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which has local, regional and even national events.
The events range from beginning walk-trot to advanced hunter jumper.
The Equestrian Team has recently traveled to colleges such as Cazenovia College and St. Lawrence University to attend local IHSA shows.
Last year, three members competed at the regional IHSA show, which includes western New York and parts of Canada. Senior Pam Okerholm placed 7th and seniors Casey Myers and Meagan Pryor placed in the top 20 of the region all in the walk-trot-canter flat division. This past Saturday, Jill Thorson placed in the top 20 in the novice flat division at this year’s regionals.
IHSA shows mean a long day for the equestrian team. There are a total of 400 rides throughout the day, and the event usually runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Despite the long days, the show team has always ridden well.
“Our team members do really well,” Pryor said. Everyone has placed in the local shows. We go out and do our best.”
In addition to attending local and regional shows, the UR Equestrian Team will be hosting their own show next year at Lehman Farms. UR’s Equestrian Team may not be the most well known sports team on the UR campus, but they aspire to being a vibrant and active team.