Welcome to a new series on Jumper Nation featuring bloggers from around the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) who are kindly willing to share the ins and outs of being college students, athletes, and horse show junkies 365 days a year. Sure beats the britches off of being in a sorority, if you ask us! For a crash course in what the IHSA is all about, click here. If you’re a current IHSA competitor who would like to contribute, please email our editor at email@example.com.
Ellie Woznica, Alfred University:
As my fellow teammates and I pack our garment bags for our first show of the season this weekend, I cannot help but feel especially grateful for the school horses that have helped prepare us for the rides to come. In the IHSA program, every ride is a catch ride, and only the perfect assortment of practice horses can prepare you for a show like that.
Here is a list of just seven of Alfred’s most charismatic horses that make us stronger riders every day and never fail to leave us entertained. While they may be the real every-day horses of our team, they’re also very representative of the horses you’ll find in nearly every IHSA show program.
1. Nemo is a retired Maclay horse who—standing just shy of 18hh—always manages to turn heads. He wants to be everyone’s best friend. He is always hanging his head out of his stall window waiting for walk-by pats and the occasional mint. He will snuggle with you all day and might actually believe himself to be a lap dog.
2. Zim is the grumpy old man and barn favorite. He was an upper level dressage horse back in the day and never shies away from the change to show off his tempi changes (even if he is supposed to be trotting). He is affectionately known as “Grumpy Gills,” but is all bark and an absolute love.
3. Clare is a chestnut mare that denies every one of the stereotypes; she is straightforward, completely unmare-ish, and a blast to ride. She thinks she has more scope than she does and often has to be reminded that the long spot to the oxer might not be such a great idea.
4. George is a boarder’s horse, leased to the school’s program, adored by walk-trot and novice riders alike. He is some kind of appaloosa-draft cross that looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy in horse form. He is renowned for being the cutest and by far the comfiest horse in the barn.
5. Evie is a medium sized pony and simple change extraordinaire. She is the one everyone hopes to draw for their jumping round. She is more push than pull, but is the sweetest mare you’ll ever meet.
6. Wilbur is second to only to Nemo in height and second to none in personality. He will nicker to anyone who walks his way and is always a bright and friendly face for 6:30am practice. Known as for his enormously bouncy trot and ears to match, he never fails to make you laugh.
7. Breeze is the backbone of the program. She would never win a conformation class, but is truly worth her weight in gold. She can go from teaching new riders how to trot, to jumping around an open course without batting an eye. She loves her job and always has something new to teach.
These are just a few of the many horses that deserve way more cookies than we could ever possibly give them. Without them we wouldn’t have a program, and—let’s be honest—without them our college experiences wouldn’t be the same. As we button up our jackets, pull on our gloves, and step into the arena, let us take a moment to be thankful for the horses who have helped make us the riders we are today.