You might know about equestrian sports from the Summer Olympics, where competitors from around the world challenge each other for the gold. However, for those that are not in the know, the Mines equestrian team rides horses, particularly in the English category of riding.
The Mines equestrian team competes within the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), in both horse jumping and flatwork. The IHSA is a competition-based organization where riders of all skill levels can compete individually and as teams at regional, zone, and national levels.
IHSA’s mission is to “promote the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows regardless of his or her financial status or riding level.” In this undertaking, they are quite successful. At shows, competing riders draw horses out of a hat, from a provided lot, and then ride them in competition against each other. This means riders need not have a horse or tack to compete, only the required riding clothing and skill.
Student and coach, Allison Pelzel, started the Mines chapter of the organization only last year in an effort to meet like-minded students and attract new people to the sport.
Allison has been riding for over 15 years and also volunteering with CU’s chapter before starting the team at Mines. Since its start, the team has gone through almost two full seasons with great success.
At the second show, the Mines equine team was the reserve high point team (the team with the second most overall points) even though it was about a fifth of the size of the others in the region (CU, CSU, UW, UNL).
“We also sent a rider to nationals during our first year, which is pretty rare, and this year we were the reserve high point team again, a mere 3 points off of being the high point team, again with far fewer riders than most teams,” Allison said.
In the current season, the team sent a quarter of its members to regionals and zones, and has once again qualified a student to nationals. This is extremely impressive since the team is only student-competitor funded and motivated.
“People should join our team because it’s fun,” Allison said. “You get to know people that you might never talk to normally, including a lot of people from other schools all over the country. You also get to travel to some weird but cool places and ride some amazing horses.”
The team goals for next year are to increase the size of the team, become a club sport, and send more people to nationals. Allison said she would also like the team to be the high point team at one of the shows next year.
The Mines equestrian team certainly fits the bill as a Mines lore that few people know about. If you like horses and the people that ride them, this is the club for you!