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Old Gold & Black

‘The Potential to do Something Special’

‘The Potential to do Something Special’

Wofford College equestrian team begins sixth season

Now in its sixth year as an established intercollegiate competitive group on Wofford’s campus, the Wofford College equestrian team has “the potential to do something special for our program,” co-captain Allison Andrews said. “Something special,” Andrews explained, would include “sending multiple riders into the post-season, as well as finishing in the top three at a show [as a team].”

 

The team competes against other Southeastern teams in a “conference” of sorts called IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association). Horse competitions are a league of their own, incomparable with more familiar college-level athletics. Andrews explained IHSA competitions as “a very uniqueshow style where all riders must randomly draw a horse’s name out of ahat and compete on that horse with no warm up and only a few words ofinformation on that particular horse. Ideally this creates alevel playing field for all riders, although sometimes it can be luckof the draw.”

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Even with an explanation of the structure of IHSA competitions, the inherent foreign nature of equestrian competitions to those outside the equestrian circle, and the fact that Wofford’s equestrian team is relatively new, makes promoting the team challenging.

 

Increasing promotion and establishing a strong presence on campus are part of the team’s mission for steady growth and prominence. Though Campus Union has allocated funds to the team from its onset, growth and vision stemming from the team’s leadership has necessitated an increase in financial support. The riders and coaches believe this growth is a product of getting the word out about the team and encouraging students, alumnae and others to contribute to the team’s aspirations for growth.

 

The team’s recent history speaks for itself in terms of expansion and an increasing presence on Wofford’s campus. Last year, a change in coaching staff brought new energy and ambition to the team. Since Ashley Conkle and Merimac Dunbar of Motlow Creek Equestrian Center have taken over the reins as coaches, they have inspired a new level of organization, motivation and team connection.

 

This previously untouched level of ambition has trickled down to the riders, who themselves developed a new sense of responsibility to the team and its growth. Last year alone, the team was recognized on the court during a Wofford men’s basketball game, hosted its first home show at Tryon International Equestrian Center and sent a rider to Zones, the first level of post-season competition. All of these firsts for the team were a result of coordination and determination of the coaches, riders and various faculty and administration at Wofford who came together to put the Wofford College Equestrian Team on the map.

 

The team competes in a total of eight shows throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. They started off the year at Georgia Southern University on Sept. 30 and will have back-to-back competition weekends Oct. 13-14 and 20-21 at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, respectively. After that, the team will resume competitions in February, with hopes of continuing on into mid-March to compete in Zones again. In addition to coaches Conkle and Dunbar, the team consists of co-captains Allison Andrews and Rhiannon Lemaster and ten other riders ranging in riding level and experience.

Photo Caption: Senior Allison Andrews rides in the Open division on the flat and over fences and was the first Wofford rider to compete in Zones last year. Andrews is a lifelong rider and has been on the team since her freshman year.

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