Ohio Wesleyan University is home to many club sport teams and activities that students join, and one such club that may be lesser known to students is the Equestrian Team.
In addition to teaching new riders the ropes, the school also has a show team that students can choose to be a part of in addition to the regular practices and competitions.
The team’s captain, Jordan Howlett, a junior, has been on the team for six semesters and has been Captain for three semesters of it. While she hasn’t done very many shows because of COVID, she loves the show team and sport.
“The show team is also just such a close group. I love being around them, we're all really good friends. It makes it super fun, and friendly competition is always great!”
During shows, riders are expected to be assigned to a random horse based on a drawing system, and then ride the horse in front of judges. This makes the sport and experience that athletes have very different from almost any other sport.
As Howlett explains, “The show team is a lot different from other sports because, while it is a competition, it's more of a performance. You have a very specific outfit you need, and you have to put on a happy face and sit with the right posture and make sure that you get along with the horse you've been assigned. It's not like a football or soccer game where you are exerting yourself in pursuit of a goal, and it's not a race, it's really just who can be in the most control of their horse and look good doing it.”
If a student wants to join the show team, they have to have a semester of experience riding with the club, and students do not have to show if they do not wish to.
The show team is very small, with only four members and they are very close knit and bond over their love of riding as well as competition.
The coach, Jessica Daniels, has been coaching the team for four years. Riders love their coach and how much she pushes them to do better.
Caton Williamson, a junior who has been on the team since her freshman year explains, “I like our coach. She does her best to teach us and correct any mistakes we make during lessons so we can be at our best for shows. She has helped me feel confident enough in my abilities to be a part of the show team.” Williamson is showing for her first time this semester and is very excited to do so.
Even if students have no riding experience, joining is easy and quite inexpensive. All a student needs to do is email the club, pay their dues, and start going to the barn.
The club has a carpool system where club members sign up for lessons based on when they are available. They are then matched with other people who can drive them to their lesson.
As Williamson says, “I'd say it's very easy for new members to join the regular club team and show team. It's all about learning and having fun, and whether you come in with lots of experience or none at all, the team welcomes everyone.”