The team competes as part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) and faces off against schools such as Temple University, Salisbury University, the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and Valley Forge Military Academy, where most of the shows are held.
Students involved with the equestrian team come from all across UD and anyone is welcome to join no matter their level of horse riding experience.
Jenny Schmidt, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the equestrian team club president, said that the team members all have different levels of riding experience.
“We’re from all over. We have people who’ve competed nationally and done really well and made money and have been really successful. Then we also have beginners. One of my best friends, she started riding last year, never rode before and she fits right in. Anyone can ride if they just have an interest in horses but never actually rode; it’s a great way to get into it. It’s a big group of people who just love horses and we all get along because we all have that common thing,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt also said that riding with the equestrian team is a lot cheaper than riding and showing a horse on one’s own.
“It is still kind of expensive paying for lessons every week but if you were just to compete on your own horse, you’re shelling out at least $200 a day on the competition and then for us, it’s $30 to compete so it makes competing affordable for college students,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt said the fall is the busiest time of year because of the number of competitions, each of which is hosted by a different school. That school is responsible for setting up the show, receiving entries from all the schools that are competing and getting the horses ready — though sometimes teams are requested to bring their own horses.
At the shows, individuals are placed in different levels based on their riding experience and skill level. Participants then pick a name out of a hat and that’s the horse that they ride.
“You don’t get to warm up or practice or anything. The host school gets the horses all ready, then you pick your horse randomly and you get on and go compete. So you’re getting on something that most likely you’ve never ridden unless you’re a senior and you see a lot of the same horses,” said Schmidt. “You’re riding something you’re not used to, you’re thrown into a situation where you have to act quick on your feet and it really tests you as a rider to see how adaptable you are to what you’re given. It’s really interesting.”
Schmidt said that this year is going great and at the team’s first competition, UD came in third and had a lot of individual riders get first place ribbons.
English and Western
The equestrian team is comprised of about 80 members that are split up into two different teams: an English team and a Western team.
Schmidt said that the English team is the larger of the two, with about 80 percent of the members participating on the English team.
The English team members wear hunt seat attire — tan pants, a blazer, white collared shirt, with their hair up and a helmet — and are judged based on their equitation.
“Basically equitation is how well you ride the horse and how good you look doing it,” said Schmidt.
The Western team is pretty much the same, but their attire is different and what they make the horses do is a little bit different as well.
“They wear black pants, black shirts, and hats. The Western team competes in horsemanship and reining, while the English team competes in hunter seat equitation and jumping,” said Schmidt.
The two teams also practice in different locations with the English team practicing in in Townsend, Delaware, and the Western team practicing in Westhampton, New Jersey.
The English team is coached by Whitney Carmouche and the Western team is coached by Amy Freeman.
The team is co-advised by Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS), and Amy Biddle, assistant professor in ANFS.
For more information on the equestrian team or for those interested in joining, visit the team’s Facebook page.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos courtesy of Jenny Schmidt
This article can also be viewed on UDaily.