For a club not well-known around campus, the Temple equestrian team has big goals for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.
One of those goals is to come in first place in the team events, a hard task for the Owls considering they do not have as many riders as the University of Delaware or Delaware Valley College, the big equestrian schools in the area.
The club, which is highlighted by 26 members, finished eighth out of 11 teams in the English section and fourth out of eight teams in the Western section, while sending five riders to Regionals based on earning a certain amount of points.
The English and Western sections are the only disciplines the club competes in for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which offers classes for English equitation and Western horsemanship.
“The ISHA sets the show’s standards and guidelines for all of our teams,” senior Western rider Christina Thatcher said. “As competitors under this system, we arrive at our show and are assigned horses for our class. Most of the time, we have never seen nor ridden the horse before, since the IHSA philosophy is ‘a good rider can ride any horse.’”
As far as members and dates, 10 riders compete only in the English section, one rider in the Western section, while eight riders show both disciplines. There are five dates for Western shows and 10 dates for English shows. The Western section has two shows running consecutively, while the English section has one show a day.
“Every show is important [to us] since we all need to accumulate points to point up to the next division as individual riders to qualify for the regional competition,” Thatcher said. “You compete on a larger level against college teams from across the state and the country.”
Even though the Western and English disciplines seem like different squads, the equestrian club still considers itself one big family.
“Although we are two separate show teams, we [still] consider ourselves to be one team,” said sophomore Western Captain Lexi LeFevre. “At away shows, those of us competing stick around all day to help and cheer on our teammates.”
And that includes welcoming people in.
“The girls are very inclusive and do a good job at welcoming members,” junior English rider Sydney McKinney said. “My experience so far has been positive. Being able to compete as a team is always a fun experience in itself. These intercollegiate shows enable us to all come together, support one another and encourage each other to do our best.”
That’s why it helps freshmen to have upperclassmen ready and eager to help out their new riders.
“The veterans of the club know the ins and outs,” she said. “The information they give new members allows for smoother sailing. For practice, they coach us on trying our hardest. At a competition, when everyone is nervous, [the veterans] are there to give comforting words of advice and tips on performance.”
In competition, riders are judged through equitation covering form and ability to control their horses.
“Western riders are expected to keep their legs and shoulders back, their seat and heels down, hands and elbows relaxed and strategically placed,” Thatcher said. “They should also be able to control the horse, keeping him or her at an appropriate pace such as walking, jogging and loping at a much slower pace than English horses, while keeping his or her behavior in check.”
Joe Polinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.