Compete at Any Level with the Wisconsin Equestrian Team
Did you know that the Wisconsin Union is has its own horseback riding team? Absolutely, we do!
Tucked within the Hoofer Riding Club, the Wisconsin Equestrian Team takes students one step further into the world of horsemanship and equine care. Founded in 2000, the team travels across the country to compete in dressage, western and hunter-jumper styles.
Unlike a lot of other sports or teams, the Wisconsin Equestrian Team welcomes all interested students to try out. Some team members have been riding since they could walk, but others have just recently discovered their passion for the sport – and they all have opportunities to compete at whatever level they are at!
When Dante Munn, regional correspondent for the Wisconsin Equestrian Team, joined the team his freshman year at UW–Madison, he had hardly ridden a horse before. In fact, his first time competing was only about one month into his riding career!
“Coming into the team as a beginner rider, I have learned much of what I know about riding, horses, and horsemanship from being on the team,” Dante says. “The real magic of this team for me is how it connects people who have never been on a horse before with people who have been riding their whole lives. It’s because of this connection and exchange of experience that I know everything I do. It’s been so cool getting to pass on what I know now to new team members!”
Joining the equestrian team is perfect for those looking to deepen their riding experience and become a part of a tight-knit community. In addition to the Hoofer Riding Club’s education and social events, team members attend additional lessons and meetings, as well as travel for any competitions that they may be a part of.
“I didn’t grow up doing much competing in any sport, so the horse show world was totally foreign to me,” Dante says. “I feel like I’m able to really work towards improving as a rider, and I have that extra feedback in the form of competitions. Having a team is pretty special too, we’re all always rooting for one another and celebrating each other’s victories.”
While most competitions are relatively local, earlier this year, the team even made it to Nationals in Kentucky! At each competition, equestrian team members are randomly assigned a horse – one they have never ridden before – in a unique challenge that forges adaptable, skilled riders.
“It’s a major test of how well you can adjust to a new horse and keep your cool, while also showing off your riding skills and position,” Dante says. “It’s also important to stay focused on yourself and not the people you’re riding against.”
Try-outs take place every fall (and if there are any openings, during the spring semester as well). Any full-time UW–Madison students who have joined the Hoofer Riding Club are invited to try out. There’s no better way to make new friends, strengthen your riding abilities and gain leadership skills!
For more information about the Hoofer Riding Club or the Wisconsin Equestrian Team, visit www.hooferriding.org. Anyone 18 or older may join the student-led Hoofer Riding Club, as well as the five other outdoor recreation clubs that make up the Wisconsin Hoofers. You can join a Hoofers club by visiting the Outdoor UW office on the lower level of Memorial Union, calling (608) 262-1630, or by making a membership purchase online.