Equestrian club leaps to new heights

In its history, University of Miami athletics have been the home of talented teams across a wide range of sports that have been nationally recognized for their hard work and talent. Now, UM can add the equestrian team to that list.

For the first time since the club was formed in the fall of 1997, the equestrian team will be sending two of its riders to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships. Erika Dagum, a sophomore majoring in international finance and marketing, qualified for open flats and Jessica Warren, an alumna who majored in psychology, will also be participating. They will be representing UM in Lexington, Ky.

“It’s really exciting to be going up to compete in Nationals,” Dagum said. “I’m really thankful for the team and for our coach.”

The equestrian team holds practice every Tuesday through Friday at Tally Ho Farm, though riders choose which days and times they can practice according to their schedules. Here, the riders train by riding on different horses by working on their equitation (body position) and practicing how to navigate different horses.

Although horseback riding season lasts all year, the team attends shows from October through March, about once or twice a month. The team does a lot of traveling for most shows, but also hosts an annual show at Tropical Park.

It’s important for riders to get used to riding on as many horses as possible; when riders go to competition, they draw a number which corresponds to a horse they have never ridden before. Upon entering the ring, the stewardess gives different commands for the riders to perform, which are judged based on the rider’s body position and their command of the horse, but not necessarily on the attitude of the horse.

Katie Sickling, current president of the team, is excited for this year’s success and sees a tremendous betterment for the future of the club. She attributes this improvement to team cohesion.

“This year our team just came together; we had a great year,” she said. “The team is still pretty young though, so we can keep getting better.”

Warren believes that this new group can be something special.

“There were a lot of new riders this year, a lot of new talent,” she said. “This team has a bright future in front of it.”

Although many of the team members have been riding for most of their lives, the equestrian team is open to anyone who is interested, regardless of skill level. Practices are offered to those who are interested in learning and who have never ridden a horse before.

“Anyone interested should definitely come out to meetings, come out and check out the barn,” Warren said.

One of the goals for the club is to become more recognized, especially on campus.

“Making nationals was a great accomplishment,” said freshman Tara Reaves, who will be president of the team next year. “Hopefully this will put our name out there and generate some interest in the team.”

Nationals will be take place from May 6 through May 9.

Ernesto Suarez may be contacted at esuarez@themiamihurricane.com.