On hilly terrain just 10 minutes from Millersville University’s (MU) campus sits Longshot Stables. These blue grey buildings are where MU’s Equestrian Club rides and practices throughout the semester. The barns smell of hay and horse sweat; and horses graze in the pastures and relax in their stables after active practice rides. In the center of the stable, giddy horses are groomed and saddled up.
The Equestrian Club welcomes riders of all levels and backgrounds. It does not matter if a student has never been around horses before and simply want to visit the barn, or if they’ve been competing for years and want to ride on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team. Members can take lessons discounted through the club or they can join the team by paying the required fees. The team does not hold tryouts. Everyone is welcome.
“When I heard that MU had an Equestrian Club, I knew right away that I would be joining,” says freshman member Elizabeth Leach. “I can already tell that being a part of this team is only going to have a positive effect on my college experience. It is wonderful to meet people who share the same passion and there is a great feeling of friendship when we are all together!”
The club offers lessons in both English and western riding, but the IHSA team is strictly huntseat, which is a form of English riding. The equestrian team competes in IHSA shows, which are different than regular horse shows that one would partake in outside of college. In an IHSA show, the team members do not actually ride their own horses. Competitors are placed with the horse they will ride through a random drawing system for each competition. Depending on the time of day that the competitor rides, they could be the first person on the horse and have very little idea of what to expect from the description of the horse provided, or they may be able to watch a few other competitors ride their assigned horse before competing. The competitor is not given any warm up on the new horse and is expected to get right on and enter the show ring.
Each level is divided up into classes of roughly six to 10 riders and 1st through 6th place are awarded ribbons. Each ribbon has a number of points associated with it. Riders qualify for regionals, and subsequently move into the next level, by earning the required number of points for their level.
Students can get involved by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or checking out the equestrian club calendar on their website: villeequestrian.wixsite.com/muet. Students can also follow the MU Equestrian club on Facebook and Instagram.