The Slippery Rock Equestrian Center houses two club equestrian teams, both open to any student that has an interest in horses and an eagerness to learn, and the English team rode their way to a tie with Bethany College resulting a fifth place finish in their first meet Sunday.
Fourteen schools attended the show, including West Virginia University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Seton Hill. The SRU girls ended with a final combined score of 16 points earned from scores in events like the jumpers and over fences course.
Each show that Slippery Rock holds accepts multiple volunteers. Most of the volunteers are students, and the show is almost completely run by the volunteers. Along with the volunteers, the Slippery Rock Western Equestrian Team came to lend a hand to make sure that the event ran smoothly.
In the equestrian world, there are multiple disciplines, yet the two main focuses of the SRU team is English and Western style. The judges at Sunday’s show, which was based upon the English style of riding, scored riders on their all-around performances.
These classes are separated by divisions, which are classified by the level of experience a rider has. The experience level ranges from Beginner Walk/Trot (the lowest) to Open (most advanced). These teams face off against other region 5 zone 2 colleges and universities in both disciplines.
This year, SRU had a total of nine riders compete in Sunday’s show, three of which were new members. Each of these new members competed in their first Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) competition.
Freshman Emilie Dumbach competed in the Novice Over Fences class and placed second out of eight riders. From placing second in this class, Dumbach contributed five points towards The Rock’s overall score.
“At the first fence I was a little weak because I didn’t canter right away, but overall I think it went okay,” Dumbach said.
Dumbach was also chosen by team coach, Amy Keefer, as point rider. This position represents the team as a whole by the rider’s individual points counting towards the team’s whole score.
“Going into the IHSA competition as a first time rider is nerve racking because you have to ride an unfamiliar horse,” Dumbach said. “You don’t know what to expect.”
Each rider’s horse is distributed in a lottery style. This means that each rider’s name is assigned a random number which matches a horse’s number.
Sophomore Amanda Nelson, competed in the Novice Flat class. Nelson also performed in her first IHSA show, but changed her discipline from riding in jumpers to equitation.
“It was different from what I am used to,” Nelson said. “I’m used to jumpers not equitation.”
Jumpers is judged upon the amount of time it takes a rider to finish the over fences course. The jumpers course also has more fences to complete than the standard equitation course.
The major difference that she faced was competing in a flat class, where riders are judged on their position as they walk, trot, and canter their horse. Jumpers is strictly jumping over fences where no flatting skills are judged.
Logan Petrak was the last of the new members to compete showing in the Beginner Walk/Trot/Canter class.
“I think it was pretty good for my first show, everything ran pretty smoothly. I really like how it’s all based on how good of a rider you are.” Petrak said.
She is also new to equitation in which she transitioned over from barrel racing, a western discipline. “Transitioning from barrel racing to English was really interesting because with barrel racing, you’re running really fast and you don’t have to worry about your position,” Petrak said. “But with equitation, you’re constantly thinking about where your heels are, where your hands are, the angle of your elbows, so it’s a lot of mental work along with physical work.”