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September 21, 2023

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BGSU Equestrian team to add more members than previous years

BGSU Equestrian Team

Basketball teams usually warm up on a court and track teams practice with batons, but a team that has been around since 2005 practices with animals.

Not just any animals, but horses. This team is better known as the Equestrian Team.

“At horse shows it’s a draw as to what horse [the students] are going to ride. They are not allowed to warm up the horses at all. They get on their horse, adjust their stirrups and go in and show, so it’s a true test of horsemanship and their ability to be flexible and learn how to ride the horse,” said Coach Jill Jewett.

Jewett was a coach at the University of Findlay before she came to the University.

The Equestrian Team is made up of two different teams, an English team which has 21 members and a Western team which has 23 members; both of these teams make up the two discipline teams. This year’s numbers differ with membership.

This past year, the English team had 18 members and the Western team had 14 members.

“This is the biggest number that we have had so far, I’m excited to show and compete with the other members a part of the team,” said Erin Caskey, a Western team member.

Along with the 300 organizations on campus, students can find most of the information about club sports online.

“I heard about the Equestrian Team from another member’s apparel. I went online to search for more information, and went to Campus Fest,” said Alison Skok, Vice President.

The team participates in two competitions per semester and the events differ.

The English Team consists of a hunt seat and jump, while the Western Team does stock seat, which is also similar to what a person would see in a Western movie.

Hunt seat consists of the rider wearing helmets, bridges and long boots. Stock seat riders has a saddle and horn, chaps, and a hat, Caskey said.

“The team has shown growth every year from what I have learned historically,” Jewett said.

She is unsure as to why they’ve seen more growth this year. The team is open to everyone.

President Elizabeth Schoenwitz, a junior, said more students showed interest than she anticipated.

“This is the first year we’ve ever dealt with that so next year we may do some sort of tryouts for the team,” she said. “You don’t have to have any prior experience, we accept anyone on to the team. We love seeing the new people on the team progress throughout the year.”

Skok said she loves that all the members have become close; we all have something in common, which is horses.

For preparation, the team practices at the coach’s barns and use the coach’s horses. For each competition, the teams are judged on how well they handle the situation they are put in and how well they handle the horse. If a team member does something wrong, they are also judged on how good they handle it.

Most of the competitions are in Findlay, while the English team travels to Lake Erie the Western team goes to Oberlin College.

This past year, the English team placed six out of 13 overall in the region, Jewett said.

“To my knowledge that’s the first time the team has actually placed in the region,” she said.

The team also sent one rider to nationals last year, which took place in California. Although the team is built on a first come, first serve basis because of the number of horses available for team members, they will begin accepting new members again in the spring.

“This is a personal goal for me. I am excited to see how far in rank I can go. Right now I am an intermediate two rider and I want to be ranked as an open rider,” Skok said.

The first show for the English team is Oct. 26 and 27 at the University of Findlay.

“I’m so excited about the year, and the members of the team are just wonderful students who have wonderful attitudes and outlooks and to me that’s a lot of it,” Jewett said. “I want them to do well but want the emphasis to be on sportsmanship.”

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