Students in the saddle: Equestrian team talks show culture


The Chapman equestrian team had its first show of the season this Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Photo courtesy of Kaylie Posen

The Chapman equestrian team is a means to connect students who share a love for horse riding culture, according to senior Courtney Marshall, president of the team. But a common misconception about the club is that membership is not for everyone due to the “expensive” nature of the sport, she said.

Riders on the equestrian team pay $400 a year. In comparison, it costs just under $2000 a year to participate on the Chapman club hockey team.

“We are actually one of the cheapest schools to ride for,” Marshall said. “Our dues for the team are $400 for the entire year. In comparison to other schools, which are (sometimes) $900 per semester.”

But freshman rider Kaylie Posen said there are other costs to riding at Chapman.

Riders usually take one or two lessons a week, which each cost $40. And if riders haven’t already purchased apparel they need to buy helmets, tall boots, show shirts, and show jackets.

Compared to Chapman, riders at the University of Southern California (USC) pay $750 a year to ride and an additional $25 if they don’t have a car to cover gas fees. USC riders are also required to ride at least once a week, which costs $65 each for once a week lessons or $55 each for twice a week lessons.

Physical traits, like balance and core strength, play a critical role in determining how successful riders will be, Marshall said, but the most important part of becoming a successful equestrian is a rider’s mental strength and persistence.

“Riding is a mental thing,” Marshall said. “You can fall off 100 times and you have to make sure you want to get back on the horse after that.”

Skilled equestrians typically ride several horses to maintain their skills, Marshall said. By riding different horses, riders are better equipped to understand the animals’ different tendencies so there are no surprises during competitions.

“When you ride one horse all the time, you just get used to that horse … Our coach tries to keep us on different horses all the time,” Marshall said. “We all have the one (horse) that we’re absolutely in love with, but we try to ride as many as we can.”

During competitions, riders are given a horse at random which they must ride for the duration of the event, Posen said. This eliminates any unfair advantage that could come with letting riders choose their own horses.

“You ride the other team’s horses,” Posen said, “You just draw a name out of a hat. You have no idea what horse you’re getting on.”

The equestrian culture around the United States and the equestrian culture at Chapman have some differences, Posen said.

In Colorado, where Posen is from, the equestrian culture has a different vibe, she said.

“It’s a lot different,” Posen said. “People don’t get as dressed up with the belts and stuff like they do here.”

The team had its first show of the season this Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.