Equestrian Club

Basic information

The Equestrian Club allows equestrian enthusiasts to gather in fellowship and heighten their understanding of horse riding. We host lessons, clinics, and competitions in horsemanship.

Things to know

What style of riding does the Calvin Equestrian Team ride?

We ride Hunter/Jumper, so that means English saddles and English show gear. This gives our riders the opportunity to jump over fences, if there is interest.

Do I have to own my own horse to be on the team?

Nope! We use the lesson horses that are available through the barn we ride at, which is Sterling Meadows in Ada, MI. The barn is about 12 minutes away from Calvin’s campus.

What is IHSA?

IHSA stands for Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which is the association that all the shows we participate in are run through. IHSA splits the United States up into showing regions and zones, and Calvin is part of Region 4, Zone 6. We show against other collegiate teams that are in our region and zone, which includes Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Albion College, Ferris State University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, University of Western Ontario, among others.

IHSA is the determinate for what level each rider shows at, decided by an evaluation ride done for new riders with the team’s coach (Chelsea Vickery) at the beginning of each new school year. The levels are as follows: Open, Intermediate, Novice Fences, Open, Intermediate, Novice Flat, Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter, Beginner Walk/Trot/Canter, and Walk/Trot.

What if I don’t want to show, but still want to be involved?

It's no problem—you are still welcome to join our club! We also have a volunteering branch that goes to The Barn for Kids a handful of times a year and helps out with whatever they need.

How many shows are there, and do I have to show at every one?

There are usually about 8 shows, running from October to February, and usually with no shows in December. The first two shows we have in October are usually outside, but the rest are inside. However, it's still very frigid because the barns are not heated.

You are not required to show at every show—this is at your leisure. The shows are always on Saturdays, or a Saturday and Sunday. They run just about the whole day, which means leaving campus early in the morning and getting back later at night. Many students bring homework along for the car rides and down times.

What is a show like?

This is not your average horse show. Wikipedia actually does a pretty good job of explaining this:

IHSA shows are unlike open horse shows. An IHSA team organizes and hosts each show and invites other member colleges and universities in its IHSA Region to compete. The show is usually at the host team's facility or nearby. Competitors are not permitted to ride their own horses. IHSA show horses are already provided by host stables or "donated" for the day from other teams, coaches, or area equestrian facilities. Each horse is schooled (warmed-up) before classes begin by non-competing riders, while student competitors observe to ascertain particular attributes of each potential horse.

Riders participating in the competition are not allowed to choose the horse they would like to ride. Each rider is assigned a horse, partially through random selection and partially through a matching of the horse's abilities with those needed for horses participating in certain classes. Every rider in the particular class goes over to the draw table and randomly draws a horse that is in their class. The rider may or may not know anything about this horse, but the rider is expected to be able to ride any horse that is considered to be at the level that they are in. (It would not be appropriate for a horse that does not do over fences to be placed in an over fences class. The same goes for reining horses for western.)

The rider mounts the horse he has been assigned just before his class is scheduled to begin. Competing riders are not permitted to warm-up or get used to their assigned horse. One of the goals of the IHSA is to provide all riders with an equal chance of performing well in their class; by not allowing riders to compete on horses that they are comfortable with judges can accurately rate the ability of the rider to effectively control the horse and ride well.

Do I have to have my own show clothes?

No—the team does own some of their own show coats, boots, helmet, etc., but there is a limited sizing range. Many of the riders do own their own show clothes, but before you go out and buy anything, check with a team captain to find out the IHSA clothing requirements.

What is the time commitment?

Being a part of the show team is as big or as small as a commitment as you want to make it. Lessons are only required right before a show if you are to be showing, and beyond that, they can be taken at your own leisure. We do, however, emphasize that taking lessons leads to improvement, and it is a great way to get to know your teammates!

Most students participate in a running tradition of Friday night dates with lessons around 5 or 6 p.m. on Friday nights each week, but again, it's not required.

How much does being a part of the show team cost?

Yes, there is a cost. But we must be incredibly thankful for the financial funds Calvin gives us to help make these costs more affordable to you! The cost varies slightly each year, and usually the team comes up with a show package to help bundle things and make shows more affordable for the riders.

For the 2014–2015 school year, this package was $360 for 6 shows, including 1 pre-show lesson for each show. There are extra costs beyond that for food, hotels, and personal lessons, as well as team wear at the beginning of the year (if you choose to purchase it). Lessons cost $30 for a 30–45 minute lesson at our venue: Sterling Meadows in Ada, MI.

Contact us

Email: equestrian@calvin.edu

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