Athletes of a Different Breed

To ride horses competitively in college is to test one’s sanity. Imagine being on a horse you have never ridden moments before entering the ring. The feeling of the unknown, the edgy jitters accompanying a solo moment, anxiously awaiting judgment — these are just a few of the emotions running through a rider as she urges her horse forward into the ring to represent her team. Yet the members of The Claremont Colleges’ Equestrian Show Team can’t wait to get into the ring.

At the beginning of each show, competitors randomly draw a number that corresponds with a horse – a nerve-wracking process. Though many regard horseback riding as an individual sport, it is anything but; one must be able to work with the horse and demonstrate their combined skills. There are two classes at a hunt-seat intercollegiate show: over fences (jumping) and flat (non-jumping). Both classes are judged on equitation — an individual’s effectiveness as a rider by making the ride look natural and effortless and an aesthetically pleasing posture and position on the horse.

This year, with many new show team members from across The Claremont Colleges, team spirit is high and the Show Team is competitive. At the team’s first show of the year, riders competed against 12 other schools in the region and, although many Claremont team riders had never participated in a collegiate show before, every one brought home a ribbon.

“I thought the Equestrian Team would be a great way for me to meet people at school that I shared a common interest with,” says Caroline Lynn ’12. “I was also excited to represent The Claremont Colleges, and I love to have friends at school I can chat about horses with!”

Caroline competes in both the collegiate show ring and at the highest level of show jumping in worldwide horse competitions 25-30 weeks per year. These difficult and challenging Grand Prix classes require horse and rider to jump 10-16 obstacles, with heights over five feet and jumps six and a half feet wide. “I have spent so many years practicing and competing, being able to show at these levels successfully makes me feel like all of my hard work has really paid off,” she says.

Caroline plans to continue competing after graduating a semester early this fall. Although she plans to enter law school next fall, she says riding and competing will always be a part of her life.

The Show Team practices once a week and competes in shows throughout the school year. The upcoming 2013 spring semester will include competitions in Southern California and Arizona, as well as the opportunity for high-point riders to compete in year-end regionals, zones, and Nationals.