College sports are extremely popular in the community, but when’s the last time an equestrian team was the talk of the town?
The Florida Southern Equestrian team, established two years ago, is in its second full-year of competition. An equestrian, also known as horse-back rider, participates in multiple events like jumping, hunting and trots. This is not to be confused with horse racing, which is another form of equestrianism.
The equestrian team is not part of the NCAA, but rather the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association where they compete against other colleges. The team is part of the Florida Southern Athletic Department and not a club team, despite what many have come to believe.
“The school, and especially athletics, has been very helpful giving us a leg up and welcoming us into the athletic department with open arms. They also help fund our shows and travel costs,” Senior Sophie Morgan said.
Horse-back riding is extremely common and it was only time before enough students pushed to have it recognized as an official sport at Florida Southern. Co-founder of the team, Sophie Morgan said that one of the team’s biggest advocates holds a pretty important role in the school itself.
“President Kerr is an avid equestrian so she was also one of the main people to help get us to where we are today,” Morgan said.
Morgan co-founded the team her freshman year and said that the original plan was to go to the Center for Student Involvement, but she later decided to pitch it to the athletic department and they were on board.
Equestrian competition days are an all-day event usually beginning around 7 am and ending around 6 pm. Riders face the challenge of riding a horse that the show provides, not their personal horse that they use to train with.
Most members on the team compete in the jumping and hunting events which grade the horse and rider on their form as they perform hurdles. Members that compete in an event must take three lessons from a trainer in the week leading up to a show and some even have their own horse to practice.
Next month, the team will begin workouts with a Florida Southern athletic trainer in preparation for their upcoming season.
The team’s last event was in March when they took home a first place and three second place finishes to place eighth at the University of Florida Zone 5 Show.
The equestrians also offer a social membership if anyone wishes to learn how ride horses and not compete. They are open to any volunteers who would like to learn about riding and hope to be more involved in the community soon.
“It’s been a crazy road but to anyone who’s interested in starting something on campus, if you’re passionate about it, go for it because you never know what could happen,” Morgan said.
The equestrian team and Sophie Morgan will be in action with their seven events slated for the school year. The first event is scheduled for Oct. 21 at the University of Florida.