As students hit dance floors throughout Oxford, one group of students take those moves and teach them to four legged giants, better known as horses. The Miami University equestrian team has expanded its program as it introduces dressage (a high level of training for horses that involves fancy footwork) and continues to expand its western and hunt seat programs. All three of these programs require dedication to the horses as riders work through a vigorous schedule to compete at a very high level.
The equestrian program has greatly expanded. The school offers more kinesiology and health classes (KNH) for students to interact with horses and there have been more donations from alumni and community members.
Seniors Ashley Roche and Diana Kroll said both the Oxford community and Miami have become important factors in making the team a success. Many of the horses that can be found at the stables, located across from Ditmer parking lot, have been donated or leased to the school by Oxford community members, as well as Miami parents and alumni.
“Horse donations have become vital to our team as it allows our members to work with various horses,” Roche said. “Each horse has its own specialty and the variety allows team members to practice at different competitive levels.”
This year’s team is comprised of more than one hundred members, including some who had never been on a horse until taking a KNH course at Miami. While other teams require years of experience, the KNH courses teach students the fundamentals of caring for a horse as well as basic horse training skills.
“A common misconception that students have is that just because they have never been on a horse they could never join the team,” Kroll said, “but the team’s success relies on those who have competed at show level and those who are first time riders.”
This can be attributed to how invitationals are run and how points are distributed for each team, which are similar to cross country meets, thus allowing competition at a group level as well as individual.
Coaches Beth Akers, Heather Pinnock and Lori Cramer have been able to implement a lasting positive attitude in their team and have allowed members to step up as leaders. The impact these coaches have had shines through as the team grows with each day and dedication from team members becomes more apparent as the size of the team expands.
The Miami equestrian team is a group that takes risks, not only with themselves but also with 700 to 1,000 lb. animals underneath them. Their sport requires patience, dedication and the ability to be fearless as they push the boundaries of traditional horse showmanship. It is not about the ribbon that you win, it’s about the journey that was taken in order to obtain that beautiful blue flowing fabric. This weekend kicks off the first Miami invitational of the year beginning at 10 a.m., with five other universities involved. So Miami students giddy up and be sure to get your club on!