By: Stephanie Radloff
As fall sports at the University of Findlay begin their seasons, the English Equestrian Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team is no exception. While the team has not officially been announced, tryouts were conducted on Sept. 5-7.
The equestrian teams works a little differently at UF. Since they aren’t officially a NCAA sport at Findlay, the teams aren’t allowed to recruit and give out scholarships. Instead, they hold yearly tryouts. This gives many other people the chance to have the opportunity to be on a college team.
The English Equestrian team has an impressive history, and Coach Alexandra Kemp-Thompson looks forward to continuing that tradition.
“We have a very strongly-skilled set of riders returning this year. I am certainly confident in our upperclassmen returners,” said Kemp-Thompson. “I’m very excited for the fall season to begin and to also see what a talented group of freshmen we have to add to the mix, and to compliment the riders we already have.”
Coach Kemp-Thompson explains what she feels her teams’ strengths will be.
“I truly believe that our teams biggest strength is our riders ability to adapt to their horses so quickly,” she stated. “I think our riders are really good about sitting on the horse they’re given at any venue, and riding technically correct. That confidence that our riders show at every level, the fact that they aren’t intimidated by a new mount, that’s a huge strength to have as a team.”
Senior Chloe Johnson is looking forward to having new horses to ride this year.
“I am looking forward to all of the new horses all of the schools have gotten this year and for show season to start so we can begin working as a team,” said Johnson.
However, Coach Kemp-Thompson, while excited about the new horses, worries that they could potentially be problematic.
“Over the last year, and even the last three months, I’ve brought in a number of new donation horses to the UF program. These horses will be huge assets to our IHSA team,” said Kemp-Thompson. “I do think that it will be tough for our riders to get acclimated with these new horses so quickly.”
Looking ahead for the season, Kemp-Thompson has big goals for her team. She’d like to see the group make it to nationals as a team as well as have individuals qualify. This season, she’s looking for consistency in her riders as well as confidence.
“That looks like winning the Regional Championship as a team for the 18th season,” explained Kemp-Thompson, “that looks line winning the Zone 6 Championship that we re-claimed last year in 2017, after being Reserve Champion in 2016. I would also like to see a UF rider represent the Region as the Cacchione Cup rider for 2018.”
For Sydney Barnett, a returning Senior, success this year means beating Lake Erie College, who many riders consider Findlay’s biggest rival.
“I would like to see us win against LEC this year,” said Barnett, “They’re a team that we are neck and neck with every year and have many talented riders. As a senior, it would mean a lot to win against them.”
The Oilers have their first competition on Oct. 7-and 8 in Findlay.