Equestrian team hosts show despite high costs


For one team, a home game means driving 45 minutes off campus.

Ohio University’s Western Equestrian Team hosted its OU Western Equestrian Show this past Sunday, but they had to rent Henderson Arena in Jackson, Ohio, to pull it off.

The 15-member team travels off campus to ride and show horses because OU’s Athens campus does not have a stable.

Regardless, the team hosted six Ohio colleges at its free show, including Ohio State University and Miami University, with hopes that it would raise enough money through fundraisers to break even.

OUWET took third place in the first show and tied for second with OSU in the second show.

Before the show, the team had raised about $1,400, said Sarah Float, OUWET’s fundraising chair and a junior studying journalism and Spanish. The team also raised more than $100 in a silent auction, she added.

“We actually got to have a little more hands-on experience with the show,” Float said.

One challenge the team faced during the show was the weather.

“The snow made it difficult for the horses, but the 100 riders all braved the weather and cold,” said Tony Kennedy, a coach for OUWET.

Kennedy, a certified horse trainer and instructor, became OUWET’s coach 10 years ago.

“The show really went off without a hitch. The biggest thing was fighting the weather,” he said.

Hosting the OU Western Equestrian Show will cost the team around $2,500 to $3,000, said OUWET President Meghan Pizzino, a senior studying psychology.
This past year, the team was not able to host its equestrian show because it did not raise enough money.

“The fact that the team gets to host a show is enough of an achievement,” said Kennedy.

In order to participate in and host shows, OUWET holds numerous fundraisers. Admission to this past Sunday’s show was free, but the team held a silent auction, cakewalk and a 50-50 raffle.

Even though OU-Southern’s equestrian team has a horse-riding facility on campus, OUWET members have to travel 30 minutes off campus to Kennedy’s barn in Tuppers Plains, Ohio, for weekly lessons.

In addition to weekly meetings, the team carpools to Kennedy’s barn for riding lessons on weekday evenings. Kennedy offers the team half-price lessons because he knows that many of them are paying for lessons out-of-pocket.
“I try to make it as easy on these girls as I can,” Kennedy said.

The costs of being a member of OUWET add up quickly. Alongside lesson fees, members pay $180 per semester for barn maintenance and they have to shoulder the cost if they want to attend or host an equestrian show.

“Because being on the equestrian team is so expensive, (OU’s club funding) doesn’t help us that much,” Float said.

The team hopes that any extra money from fundraisers at the show will help cover costs for traveling to this semester’s invitational and regional competitions.
“I just wish the equestrian team would get a little recognition from the school,” Kennedy said. “They should be proud of them; they did a good job (on Sunday).”


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