Oberlin Equestrian Team Competes in Hunt Seat Show

Before COVID-19 restrictions severely limited its activities, the Equestrian Team was one of the largest intercollegiate club sports on campus, hosting approximately 30 members. After a two-year hiatus from competing, the team is back up and galloping.
Oberlin competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (Zone 6 Region 1), which includes some schools from the North Coast Athletic Conference as well as other schools in Ohio. The commitment that Oberlin riders make to their sport is extraordinary. Hunt shows take around two days, often requiring riders to commit to the whole weekend, and Oberlin takes part in four to six shows a year per division. Participants are assigned random horses for the show rather than bringing their own, and while they can watch their horses perform in the classes prior to their event, they don’t have time to warm up. The team’s first outing was the Lake Erie College Hunt Seat Fall in Painesville, Ohio, last month.

Riders competed in their second outing of the school year at the University of Findlay this past Saturday and Sunday. Hunt seat is a particular form of English riding, a more traditional style than its Western counterpart. College third-year Emily Ferrari and College fourth-year Michele Eggleston competed in the event, and both took home fifth place in their classes.

Although Oberlin currently does not have enough points to score in shows for the IHSA, that doesn’t stop students from entering competitions. Equestrian team members also encompass a wide variety of experiences, from those who are just starting out to those who have been riding since they were little.

Members practice at Equine Differences, a barn about a mile north of campus owned by Coach Ric Weitzel. Not all college riders at Equine Differences are from Oberlin, however — in the Lake Erie College show, two students from Lake Erie College and the University of Findlay who train at the barn won their events last weekend. Students can be trained in hunt seat equitation, Western horsemanship, or both. Oberlin students can also ride and compete in dressage — there’s a separate club for that — and many riders participate in both. College first-year Max Lang hopes to hone his skills this year at the barn.

“Practices have been chill and a lot of fun,” Lang said. “Equine Differences has a lot of really great lesson horses. … All of the teammates [I’m in lessons] with are super sweet and supportive, as is our coach Michelle, and it’s been a great environment to learn in.”