LSA senior Jillian Geyer rode her first pony at age five at a renaissance fair in Rochester, Mich. Sixteen years later, it’s a passion she can’t seem to shake.

Geyer is a competitive horseback rider and treasurer for the University’s Equestrian Team — dubbed “The E Team” by its members — whose goal is to provide an outlet for students who are passionate about horseback riding.

Students compete in a number of regional competitions throughout the year. The region is made up of Michigan universities— including Michigan State University and Oakland University —and one Canadian competitor, the University of Western Ontario.

The two teams ranked the highest in the region qualify for zoned competitions, and the two highest ranked teams from each zone compete at nationals. Teams from Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan all compete in the same zone.

The last time the University’s team reached zone competitions was two years ago, though it didn’t qualify for nationals. But LSA senior Kim Leaman, the team’s president, said she thinks that this year the team’s chances are “pretty good.”

Students interested in competing can choose from either the Western or Hunter/Jumper riding styles. Western is a more modern style, while Hunter/Jumper is a more classic, English technique.

Of the team’s 50 members, only two are male.

“It’s pretty laid back and easygoing,” Geyer said. “We spend a lot of time together and develop close bonds.”

Aside from participating in competitions, the team hosts dinners, rodeo trips, movie nights and a variety of other activities. In addition, at the end of the season the team holds annual “Paper Plate Awards,” during which team members joke about the year’s funny memories.

“Last year I was injured four times and still continued riding. I was awarded ‘The Strength Award,’” Geyer said.

The team practices every other week at Willowbrooke Farm, a small ranch in Plymouth, Mich., less than 10 miles from the University.

“I think it’s a sport that you can do at any age,” Leaman said. “I saw one woman at a show who looked like she must have been about 83. I hope I’m still showing at that age.”

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