The Academic Equestrian: Riding For the Team
Collegiate blogger Haley Ruffner takes a moment to reflect on the team dynamic, a unique aspect of riding in college.
Horse showing as part of a team is an experience like no other. Before IEA (the Interscholastic Equestrian Association for middle and high school) and IHSA (the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association), riding for me was an individual sport — I was happy if my friends did well and we helped each other out to an extent, but at the end of the day it was just a girl and her horse.
As a member of Alfred University’s ISHA team, I am grateful for both my coaches and teammates. It’s a little bit like having twenty show moms to fix my scarf, straighten my number, and do my hair. There’s a sense of camaraderie even when we’re not at the barn — as a freshman, I felt infinitely more comfortable on campus at first because I knew that if I was lost or wanted someone to eat lunch with or didn’t know where a certain building was, I could call any of my teammates and they would be more than willing to help.
For a group of competitive girls, there is surprisingly little drama on the team, for which I am grateful. For us, it’s truly about the horses and doing well as a team. We are each other’s cheerleaders, moral support, boot-shiners and chaps-unrollers, and at the end of the show we will stand behind each other whether we’ve won the show or ended up last. I’ve been on more teams than I can count in various sports during my life, but I can truly say that this team is one of the most supportive I have encountered.
Haley Ruffner is attending Alfred University, majoring in English and minoring in Business and Equestrian Studies. She has a green Quarter Horse, At Last an Invitation “Cricket,” and he is also “enrolled” at Alfred. She rides western and hunt seat and also loves to rein and trail ride.
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