The Albion College equestrian program has had a strong start to its 2009-2010 season, with meets at home in Albion and away meets at Michigan State University, The University of Western Ontario in Canada and at Grand Valley State University.
The program is divided into three separate competitive teams, a western team, a dressage team, and a hunt seat team. The western team opened their season at home with a double-header at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center, where they took the reserve championship behind Michigan State and tied for third in the second show. The dressage team was named reserve champion at an Oct. 18-19 meet at Michigan State University.
The hunt seat team began their season with a fourth place at Grand Valley State University, with returning riders Sarah Behrendt, Walled Lake sophomore, and Lannis Smith, Northville sophomore, securing first and third-place finishes respectively in their events.
“The team has only had a few meets so far, one of which happened to be in Canada,” Smith said. “I also had a couple of separate events that I went to with my barnmates back at home, and I got to ride my own horse. It went really well.”
The equestrian teams, a relatively new addition on campus, have members of varying riding ability and a very young team this year. Lessons tend to run for about an hour, and members of the team take two lessons each week.
Each rider must groom, put a bridle and saddle on, and warm up his or her horse before the lesson begins. The process involves making sure that a horse’s hooves are picked out and clear of rocks and that the saddle has been placed in the proper spot on the horse’s back, among other things. After each lesson, the horses need to be cooled down and the bridle and saddle must be put away.
“The greatest thing about the equestrian team is being able to ride,” said Alyssa Olson, Clarkston first-year. “Honestly, this is my life. I have no other passion. Anyone who has the free time and wants to get into something rewarding and fun should definitely come out to the barn and try a lesson or two.”
The western team divisions include open horsemanship/reining, advanced horsemanship, novice horsemanship, intermediate horsemanship, and beginner walk/trot. The dressage team competes in first level open, upper training level, lower training level, and the introductory level. The hunt seat team boasts riders in the open flat and over fences category, the intermediate and novice flat and fences categories, beginning and advanced walk-trot-canter, and walk-trot.
“We have a show coming up soon, and then several more shows that we will be competing in second semester,” said Emily Adams, Kalamazoo sophomore. “I’m hoping the team places well in the end and that all of our freshmen gain from the experiences thrown their way. I just hope that I learn enough to show my own horse in events this upcoming summer.”
The Albion College hunt seat team has a show at the University of Michigan on Nov. 14, and the western team will be competing in a meet hosted by Western Michigan University, also on Nov. 14. The following weekend, the dressage team will be hosting an event at the Held Equestrian Center on Nov. 21.