Equestrians compete at UC Berkeley

The California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) competitive equestrian teams are by far the smallest team in their region, but they certainly didn’t go unnoticed at their latest show.

CSUMB’s equestrian team is the most recent one to join the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), having joined in 2017. Being the smallest and the newest team in the region can be a bit daunting, but the team works hard to make sure they’re seen.

The equestrian team is split into two different riding disciplines; English and Western. The competitive English team attended a show at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.

“I got second in my over fences on Saturday, Alex [Wojcik] got fourth over fences on Saturday and fifth on the flat on Sunday, Sam[antha] [Lee] got sixth on the flat on Saturday,” explained freshman Lane Payson.

For those who are unfamiliar with how the English discipline shows work and what the different levels are, Payson explained, “Basically you pick a random horse from out of a hat. You get to know only the basics about that horse. Such as can you use a whip or have Spurs. And [if] it’s fast or slow. If you’ve seen the olympics you basically do what they do, but on a smaller level. You jump a horse you don’t know over 2 feet or 2 feet 9 inches [jumps].”

Payson moves her horse up into an extended canter during her flat class. Photo courtesy of Lane Payson

What each rider does exactly, how high they jump their horse, or if they even jump at all is determined by their level. At the beginning of the year, riders must sign up through the IHSA website to be eligible to compete. From there, they are assigned a class by the IHSA dependent on their experience. Trainers are allowed to change the level of riders if the trainer believes they should be moved and riders can point up into a higher level based on the ribbons they win.

“[T]here are several levels such as Open, the highest level. They jump 2 feet 9 inches. Intermediate, they jump 2 feet 6 inches. Limit, they jump 2 feet 3 inches. Then we go down to flat class only levels. Novice and Pre Novice,” Payson said.

Every rider has to participate in the flat class. The more experienced riders who are in the higher levels also have to participate in a jumping course.

“The flat class is to see how well you can handle a horse through its transitions,” Payson said. “From the walk, to the trot, to the canter. Sometimes the judge can ask you to halt, or two point in different gaits depending on what they want to see from you. A two point is basically holding yourself off the horses back making yourself slightly lighter. This class is more subjective and the judge wants to see certain things whereas another judge may not care about that said thing.”

This may seem like a lot of information to take in, and these shows are certainly tiring, but the riders still enjoy having the chance to get out there and compete!

“It had ups and downs and there’s a lot going on in my life so I wasn’t 100 percent mentally there the whole time, but I think I did alright,” Payson said.

The English competitive team will have one more show before their season comes to a close. On Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, they will be traveling to Stanford University for their final show.

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