The UCSB equestrian team will compete in their first Intercollegiate Horse Show Association hunt seat show of Winter Quarter this weekend at the Cal Poly Pomona Horse Center.
The show is one of 10 that the team will enter throughout the year against schools including University of Southern California, UC Los Angeles, San Diego University, UC Irvine and Arizona State University. This weekend marks the first time UCSB will provide a horse for competition in the group’s three-year history.
The team hopes to accrue points at the show to qualify individual riders for regional or even national competition.
Riders draw their mounts at random and are not given an opportunity to work the horse before entering the ring. According to team co-captain and president of the Horse Boarder’s Association Kristin Peterson, competing in the IHSA “levels the playing field.”
“A lot of college students can’t afford a horse and this competition fixes that by providing horses that have been volunteered by the teams,” Peterson, a fourth-year communication major, said. “The competitors draw the horses’ names out of a hat so that they won’t have any previous experience with the horse.”
Lexi Pandell, team co-captain and Daily Nexus managing editor, said this method makes competition fairer.
“A big part of horseback riding is the bond you have with your horse,” Pandell said. “Not having that makes the competition even more challenging.”
Peterson also said university-affiliated horseback riding competitions are more affordable.
“Normal shows are around $2,000, while the IHSA ones are only about $100 per day,” Peterson said. “So I get to show more than I normally would.”
Coach Rebecca Atwater, a UCSB alumna and local horse trainer, said the club sport’s existence has influenced students’ decisions to attend the university.
“You don’t need to have your own horse,” Atwater said. “And, if you join the team, they are very inexpensive when compared to normal competitions.”
Pandell and student coach Kim Kaslow founded the team in 2008 after hearing complaints from fellow students and community members about the lack of an equestrian program at the university.
“It was really important to me to get things going,” Pandell, a fourth-year global studies major, said. “A bunch of other UC schools had teams and many people who came to UCSB were bummed out because we had no riding team.”
Kaslow — who was long-listed for the Olympic Grades in high school — said being a part of the team has enriched her college experience.
“I wanted to make horseback riding more accessible to students without horses,” Kaslow, a fourth-year communication major, said. “It’s been a huge success. I think we’re going to do really well [this weekend]. We were really successful at our last show which was at the same center so I’m looking forward to it.”