Annabel Moorman Saddles Up for the Yeowomen

Erickson Andrews

For the first time in four years, and for the second time in history, Oberlin College is being represented at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone Championships, one step below the National Championships. Senior Annabel Moorman recently qualified as one of the top two riders in the Northern Ohio Division, making her eligible for Zones.

IHSA competitions have six classes, ranging from those who have been riding for less than a year to people who have been riding their whole lives. In the IHSA, riders compete in equestrian classes and are judged based on their positioning and technique while completing a course. Unlike in professional horse shows, where the winner is generally the rider of the best, most expensive horse, in IHSA competitions the rider draws from a hat to see which horse he or she will ride. The rider is given no time to bond or warm up with the horse but must lead it through a series of jumps to complete the course in the arena. The jumps range in height among the six classes, with the highest being three feet six inches and the shortest being three feet. The idea behind setting up the competition in such a manner is to allow anyone to compete and win regardless of financial status or riding ability.

Moorman grew up riding horses, starting at the age of 3 and taking lessons by the time she was 4. She began competing at the age of 10 in hunter equitation, jumpers (speed classes) and eventing (a combination of dressage, show jumping and cross-country jumping designed as the ultimate test for horse-rider bond and skill).

When asked about the camaraderie of such an individual sport, Moorman replied, “It can be difficult to befriend other equestrians because even though I don’t want them to fall off or anything, I want to beat them soundly.”

At Oberlin the atmosphere is different, and Moorman has been able to find a tight-knit group of friends in her teammates. “It’s amazing to hear your teammates cheering when you finish riding,” she said, “and to have a group of people that have your back 100 percent even if you do something embarrassing like fall off twice in one day,” — a feat that Moorman accomplished earlier this year. Oberlin’s equestrian team, coached by Ric Weitzel, practices at Equine Differences, a stable just north of campus.

When asked about the perks of being on the equestrian team, Moorman jokingly replied that the best parts were getting to wear tight pants and leather boots. She also expressed the benefits of improving riding skills, learning how to ride many different types of horses, making great friends and getting to spend some time off campus in the stable or traveling to other colleges in the area.