Page created by: Mandy McManamon
Images courtesy of Rob Harper Photography and Erica Green
What You'll Find Here:
Their Mission: Horsin' Around
If you are a bit of a daredevil or just want to try something different, then the Equestrian team may be the group for you---especially if you are a horse-lover. As a member of the Equestrian team you have the opportunity to be professionally instructed, to enter intercollegiate competitions (we call them shows), and to learn how to take care of horses. The good thing about joining is that you don't have to have your own horse or even know how to ride! Everyone is eligible to be a member of the team and ride. You can decide if you would like to show for the team or if you only want to ride for fun, there is no pressure to compete.
The W&J Equestrian team is still a new group on campus; it was started in 1998 simply as a club, but in 2003 the club became a team and members compete intercollegiately. W&J is a member college of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). The Equestrian team competes in both divisions of the IHSA, English and Western.
In the English division you use more "traditional" riding gear (See the photo of Erica at the bottom of this page). Riders have a small curved saddle and wear breeches, jackets, and felt helmets. If you are an experienced rider you can also try over fences (a fancy way to say jumping). If you ride on the English team, you will have lessons at Shamrock Stables in West Alexander, just 15 minutes from W&J.
If you think you would prefer a more relaxed style of riding, you may enjoy riding for the Western team. If you don't know the difference between English and Western, you can imagine English riders as ones that you would see on a fox hunt and Western riders as cowboys (or girls). The Western team riders use a wider saddle that enables them to stay more balanced when they are making tight circles; they usually wear chaps, a cowboy hat, and a big belt buckle. Riders in this division are coached at Starting Line Stables, located in Finleyville and also only 15 minutes away.
Once you are a member of the team you can choose whether or not you would like to show (compete) or just ride for fun. If you want to show, the coaches for each team will place you in a class based on your riding ability. Little W&J competes with Pitt, WVU, and Rutgers (to name a few) and consistently places, as well as sending some riders on to Regional shows.
IHSA shows are different from other horse shows in that you don't have your own horse The facility where the show is being hosted usually provides the horses and you are randomly paired with a horse that matches your abilities. Then each rider is judged on his ability to control and correctly ride a horse that they have no experience with.
But if you only want to ride to learn or to have fun there are other events that you can participate in. We have group trail rides where both the English and Western teams go out for a day or weekend of riding in open country. We also have an annual Halloween fun show for kids. We help the kids dress up their horses and "compete" in games.
Happy Trails to You -- Annual Judged Trail Ride
In conjunction with the Cal U Equestrian team, the W&J team held their second annual Judged Trail Ride fundraiser. The event was held at Mingo Creek Park (about 10 minutes down Beau Street). Early that morning the team met at the park to put together obstacles (like small jumps) and set them up along the scenic trail. The trail ride was open to riders of all skill levels from all over southwestern PA.
Each rider pays an entry fee and then he is placed in a specific division, based on his age, and along the trail he must get his horse through obstacles while a judge (one of the equestrian team members) watches the horse's movement , making sure he follows the rules, and gives him a score based on how well the horse and rider duo completed the obstacle.
The theme of the trail ride this year was movies. There were obstacles based on Red Velvet, The Wizard of Oz, and Ratatouille. The Wizard of Oz was a favorite at the ride. Each rider had to pick up a basket with a stuffed dog in it and, while holding the basket, the rider has to step the horse over two small cross-rails and walk down the "yellow-brick" road, through emerald streamers, and finally replace the basket. At the end of the day (the trail usually takes 4-7 hours to get through) the team tallied the scores and gave prizes to the rider who rode the trail the fastest and the riders who received the best overall score within their division. This trail ride is a welcome change for members of the team, since they are usually the ones being judged.
I'm a Rhinestone Cowgirl...
Based on a personal interview with Anna Snyder '08, President of the Equestrian team and Captain of the Western team
I was always that little girl who wanted a pony, either for my birthday or Christmas or just because it was Saturday; I didn't really care, I just wanted one. I never got a pony. From the way I bothered my parents, you would think I would still be devastated more than 16 years later, but I found other ways to be around my favorite animal.
I started working at a horse camp out in the middle of no where and I worked there for three summers. Then it came time for me to think more seriously about college. I considered my options: I knew I wanted to become a large animal vet (so I could take care of my pony that I never got) and I wanted to go somewhere that I could ride. I found this combination at W&J.
Now as a veteran of the team, I see how much we have progressed in less than four years. We didn't even have a Western team when I started, but now we have two great coaches and barns and two diverse teams. The team as a whole has really stabilized, too. We have a solid base of dedicated girls who compete and consistently do well; when we go out there and compete with big name schools and win on a regular basis that prestige comes back with us to W&J.
In future years I hope that the team continues to grow and that more students know about it and want to be involved. Equestrian is a tough sport and sometimes I don't think it gets the recognition it should; even though it's tough, it's so much fun that it's worth the time and effort that you put into it.
How to Get in the Saddle
- Come to any Equestrian team meeting
- Contact Anna Snyder, President of the Equestrian team (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Visit one of the barns to meet the coach and watch a lesson
- Look for info on the spring overnight trail ride Ask your parents for a pony
Giddy Up -- Other Links to Check Out
Erica Green '10, English Team Captain