Equestrian team member Nicky Meyer has been showing horses since she was in kindergarten. During high school she could be found around horses almost six days a week.
For Meyer, riding horses is not just a hobby, but also something she hopes to pursue as a career after college. This made a good equestrian team essential in her college choice.
“I rode a lot beforehand so I knew I wanted to do something with riding in college,” said Meyer.
Despite not being able to devote as much time to horseback riding as she did before college, Meyer said the equestrian team has offered her a new way to look at the sport.
“It”s totally different, just how you show and the whole kind of atmosphere. I think this year we are really figuring out the whole team aspect of it,” said Meyers.
Although riders like Meyers have been competing all their lives, there are no requirements to be a member of the team, said equestrian team president and LSA senior Liz Cook.
“There is no experience necessary,” Cook said. “We”re really evenly distributed this year, we have people who have been riding all their lives and people who just started with us.”
Riders of all levels can succeed as a competitive member of the team because there are classes for beginner to advanced level riders, Cook said.
“As soon as you can ride safely you can easily start placing,” she said.
Cook said while there has been an equestrian team at the University for around 10 years, during the past several years the team has become more competitive.
Last year, Meyer placed first in her division at nationals, and this year, with only three shows left, the team is in a good position to go to nationals again.
“Right now we are leading the region,” Cook said. “The first-place winner at regions goes to zone and the first-place team from zone goes to national. You can go as a team or as an individual based on the number of points you get over the year. We already have a few people who have qualified for regional.”
While the team has become more competitive, there are many other aspects to being a member than participating in the horse shows. The team members have gone to watch events in Kentucky and the Quarter Horse Nationals, attended some of the big horse expos in the region and routinely gathered for various social activities.
“It”s not required to show. So, we have anywhere between 15 to 20 girls who show. A lot of people are on the team just for the social aspect and just like to be around horses and enjoy riding,” Cook said.
Currently, the Equestrian Team competes through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and is not considered a varsity or club sport by the University.
“We are not even a club sport, we are a club through MSA,” said Cook. “Equestrian riding is an emerging sport through the NCAA.”
In the future the team hopes to gain varsity sports status, said Cook.
“A few years down the road we would love to be a varsity sport, but right now we are just taking it year by year,” Cook said.