By Alexandra Baxter, Staff Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Equestrian Team is finishing up a successful season with students receiving high rankings on scoreboards across New England.
The Equestrian Team, previously known as the Dressage Team, is a co-ed club sport on campus. The team is a club sport which is funded through student activity fee funds which are disbursed by Student Senate. The horseback riding team competes in the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) throughout the Northeast Region. “The club is open to anyone, no matter their riding experience,” said senior and club president Ali Perkins.
Throughout the competition season the team travels throughout New England to compete at different colleges. “In a season, we compete at University of Maine at Orono (UMO), University of New Hampshire (UNH), Johnson and Wales University, and the University of Rhode Island,” said Perkins.
The team has had a member place at each show they have competed in this season. This requires a team member to finish in the top six. “We get judged individually and as a team at the end of the show,” said Perkins.
As a team, UMF placed fourth at UMO and fifth at Johnson and Wales. Members placed individually in the top three at Johnson and Wales and UNH, with Marissa Arrigoni, a sophomore, and Perkins, both placing third. “The girls have really worked hard and it has paid off for them,” said Audrey Bean, who is the team’s coach and a successful competitive rider herself.
The team practices once a week by taking riding lessons during the fall and spring semesters at Pendragon Farm in Cornville, which is approximately 40 minutes from campus.
Student Senate provides funds for the team’s transportation, lodging, and entry fees at the competitions. The team does not travel with their practice horses, so each competition means a new mount for the team members. “We draw a horse out of a hat and then have ten minutes to warm up and figure the horse out before entering the show ring,” said Perkins.
The UMF Equestrian Team is the only competing team in New England that competes as a club sport as opposed to a fully funded varsity sport. Team members work hard to keep up with the competition and refuse to let this disadvantage hinder their success. “It’s not about winning or losing.” said Arrigoni.” “It’s about having fun and progressing as a rider.”
Team members have the oppotunity to bond with other students who share their love of horses and riding. “The best part of being on the team is getting to hangout with a unique group of people who all have the same passion in common,” said Perkins.
In the upcoming months the team plans to, continue weekly practices, attend clinics around the state and making a name for themselves on campus. “We’re gonna keep working really hard this winter during the off season,” said Arrigoni. “We hope by next season to be able to compete in the IHSA [International Horse Show Association], where we’ll be jumping.”
The team is planning to host a fundraiser in the spring. “Stay tuned for information,” said Perkins, “and for the chance to get to ride a pony on campus!”