Writing short article on college riding experiences...
... and I would love to center it around riders who are participating in or who participated in college riding -- IHSA; NCAA; etc.
Any story welcome: Happy experiences, growth experiences, mediocre experiences. If you are able to include mentions of memorable people and, especially, of memorable horses, that would be great.
I am also interested in anyone who started riding during their college years, either through a gym program offered by the college or at a local barn, because of a long-standing interest that couldn't be fulfilled during your school years or your interest was sparked by college buddies who rode.
Word count for this is NOT lengthy, and I hope to include as many stories as possible. Stories need to be as concise as possible, and please include your name (first name only is OK); your state; your institution or at least a description: such as, women's college, or large state university in the Northwest, etc.
My deadline: soon
Thank you so much for any stories you might be able to contribute!
Well not sure if this belongs here, but I rode on UMass's IDA team my freshman year (I'm now a junior). I was so, so excited to start, I considered school's riding programs very seriously in my college search. I was unfortunately very disappointed in the whole thing. It started out great, but costs were really high and UMass was currently overhauling their entire riding program and there was a lot of disorganization. I had no idea that I would be paying $800 just for lessons in the program :O
The shows and practices with the team were a lot of fun. I really loved getting on unfamiliar horses and figuring them out quickly. I think that the dynamic of my team and the coach's experience/attitude was sometimes negatively affecting the team, though. I qualified to go to Nationals, and contributed greatly to the team qualifying as well. My teammates were all very late to my test, and I was extremely disappointed.
I bought the horse I had leased throughout high school and brought her to a private farm for the next two years. I wish the team had been more organized, as the IHSA team was, and I wish my teammates had been better teammates, and I wish I hadn't known more than my coach But, it was a great experience overall and I learned a lot from riding all of the different horses. It really confirmed my confidence in figuring horses out for at least a training level test.
I'm from the east coast of Canada, I am the President of a team on the Atlantic Intercollegiate Equestrian League. We're tiny compared to everything else out there, but we work for a small, relatively "horse small" area.
My name is Alexis Stevenson, I am from Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada).
I absolutely love the team. It gives you hardcore lessons on how to treat horses with respect, even if you're incredibly nervous or stressed out. You have all of about 1.5 minutes seconds to jump around a course on a new horse, so you have to learn quick.
We have a training aspect and a competitive aspect, which I found has done wonders for our team. We had 8 riders before I was president, and shot up to 40 when the training program was created. This works as bi-weekly lesson program with a carpool (our barn is 45 minutes away from campus), which gives riders that don't want to show the opportunity to ride.
One experience I love to share is getting on a hot, prelim-level eventer for my flat class. She was a ball of fire and was incredibly sensitive. I lucked out because I've sat on my share of OTTBs, so I had an okay class. I came in 6th out of 9 or something not very good, but the judge came up to me afterwards and said I rode wonderfully. My horse was too hot to handle some of the movements they asked for (walk so many steps, turn on the forehand). This is what the league is all about: not about winning, but about getting the chance to develop as a rider.
I owe a lot to my college team years. I had ridden and shown for years before, but only locally and my IHSA riding/coach took me to the next level and gave me a lot of confidence. I came in at Advanced W/T/C and by graduation was showing Adult Hunters. I was also lucky in that my team was fairly young when I came in and that gave me chances to show that I might not have gotten at a more established team. I qualified for Regionals twice, winning it the first time and going to show at Zones that year. Now, though, the same school has won their region several times against several very well-established teams and is attracting much higher caliber riders. If I were coming in now, I probably wouldn't be able to ride against them, but I'm proud to think I helped lay the groundwork to get them here.
"Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"
I loved IHSA when I did it - unfortunately, I haven't done it since my freshman year because of scheduling issues and injuries, but when I did do it, I qualified for Nationals and went for the Cacchione Cup. I was the second rider ever from my school to qualify for that class.
I had a horse lie down with me in a line up once. I started a bit of a trainwreck on this forum asking about that, and I have a picture from that class (which, incidentally, I won )
I had an ok experience in IHSA in the two years I competed. I was an ex-Western and English pleasure rider, so I was in WTC my first year and qualified for Novice at the beginning of my second. Competed for a big state school in the PNW with a very ramshackle team, but we had a lot of fun. Unfortunately the shows in my region were generally pretty poorly run, not-so-great mounts and so few shows that it was difficult to qualify for regionals in one year. IHSA is not very popular in our area. I remember one time riding in my WTC class a 5-year-old colt who had been exclusively ridden by a 14-year-old 4-Her. After I mounted up and was about to go in the ring, she told me, "Just FYI he's never been ridden in a ring before this morning, so try to keep him away from the rail." I was kinda horrified lol! Went fine in my class (got 2nd if I remember correctly) but the girl who rode him in the class after me got bucked off hard. I also got a gaited horse once who didn't know how to canter (was supposed to be a WT horse but the horse I drew came up lame and there weren't enough horses), a horse who'd been in a pasture for a year for my first O/F class ever, a 20-something mare in a Novice O/F class who fell flat on her face after the first jump in the class after mine and landed on top of the rider, and a lot more issues. There were usually only one or two shows in my region every year that had any kind of quality hunt seat horses (Western shows generally had a better selection). I quit IHSA because my confidence just got shattered by all the bad mounts. I loved my team and traveling with them, but when every show has two or three pretty bad incidents it kinda makes you not want to compete anymore.
I rode on the Tufts IHSA team for all four years of college, serving as captain for my Junior and Senior years.
I credit my IHSA experience with reinforcing my foundations of equitation, and with helping me learn to adapt to any- and I mean any- type of horse. Riding is an individual sport at the end of the day- as much as you want your friends and barnmates to win, you're not sharing points with anyone. I had more fun showing and riding with my 20-something teammates those four years that I did showing on the AA circuit for 12.
What I didn't love so much was the cost. Every school funds their club teams differently, so this may not be applicable to every IHSA team, but we were given a couple of thousand dollars a year, which all went toward hosting a home show each semester. That usually covered facility fees, judge, EMT and food/beverage. It also covered about half of the horse use cost.
Lessons, practice rides, and show entries were all paid for out of pocket. We were lucky enough to ride at a fabulous barn with saintly school horses... but that doesn't come for free! While the more experienced riders on the team understood the cost commitment of riding, even at the collegiate level, it became prohibitive to some of our lower-level riders, and at times we really struggled to find walk-trotters who could justify spending $800/semester on lessons.
That being said, we were able to do LOTS of fundraising and eventually won our region in 2011, my Senior year. It was the first time Tufts had won since 2000, and is easily one of the most emotional, thrilling, and fulfilling moments of college for me.
I rode every type of horse those four years- made equitation horses, barely broke OTTBs, mutts from the dealer's truck. But each and every one, truly, taught something. There is no better way to learn humility than competing in the IHSA- hard work pays off in spades.
I've ridden on the Sweet Briar IHSA team all 3 years. We are in an incredibly competitive region and we have done incredibly well. This year we were reserve champion of the region.
I have enjoyed every minute of my IHSA experience. It teaches how to sit chilly, drive a horse forward, and make split-second decisions. I have gained a lot of confidence in IHSA and have had the great fortune to ride some really wonderful horses. Our region has some really great horses, many who have had great show careers before they were donated, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of IHSA here.
It wasn't for me. I helped start the equestrian club at my school and was the 2nd president. Our first (and my only) show was at UF where I scrapped together money to ride in the open classes (I was ineligible for the others) against girls who had just being doing the big eq their last junior years. The horse I pulled for the over fences had been rearing and flipping out all morning when we watched schooling and I was more concerned about staying on during my class. Maybe if I had come into an established team it would have been a better experience.
"For by the love that guides my pen, I know great horses live again."
I rode on an IHSA team my freshman year. I am from the PNW and went all the way to Virginia to ride at a school. I rode on a great team and loved the coaches. I however was really bored with the riding aspect. I had competed through all the big eq as a junior. Having competed the last few years at 3'6"+ I really struggled with the huge step down. Not only in jump height but on the flat even though I was in the top lesson. Unfortunately for me I was unable to bring my personal horse which I'm sure would have kept me entertained and fulfilled my riding needs. I am thankful for the experience and had a great time showing on the circuit outside of ihsa.
A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.