Salisbury University has clubs for all types of interests, including equestrians! The SU Equestrian club is active and alive on campus, with members who compete in horseshows both locally and in the region.
Salisbury competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), in zone three region five. This group consists of other schools such as Stockton, West Chester, Drexel, UPenn, Villanova, University of Delaware and Temple.
Each school in the IHSA is required to host or cohost a show with another school. The host school is then responsible for providing the horses to the traveling schools, so they do not have to trailer their own.
This means all students need to be able to sufficiently ride different horses since they will be assigned one at random for each away show.
“It is about how you can ride,” President Izzy Toscani said.
Judges score based on the actions of the rider, and the skills they can demonstrate at the show.
At a typical show, a lottery system is used to determine who rides what horse, since the host schools supply horses. Teams can also bring their own and they will be compensated accordingly and get the advantage of using their own horses.
The SU team did this last semester and brought three of their ponies for themselves. This worked out since the team only had three riders in the show.
“It is easier being a smaller team,” Toscani said. “Every rider gets a chance to compete in all the shows, and at schools like Delaware where they have more than the 30-rider maximum, not everyone gets that time.”
This also helps with equipment, as it can get pretty pricey. The team at Salisbury has a lot of gear amongst themselves and shares it at shows for those who need it. Having equipment is requested, but not required by the team.
The team has competed in a few local shows so far this season, which are not school sponsored, but girls find out about through the club. These shows are at local barns for all ages, and riders must supply their own horse.
“I didn’t know this at first, but this is horse country. There are shows every weekend, everywhere,” she said.
The team has grown immensely after taking a hit from Covid-19, leaving the team with barely any members and no one in charge. This was also a big transition as their coach moved and was unable to offer her barn.
Luckily, Toscani stepped up and took over as president, running the team alone last season. It was thrown in the group chat, and despite never having a leadership position before, she stepped up to the challenge.
Having two other members besides herself, the team competed last season and was still able to place consistently at each show. With a new coach and even a rider who had never ridden before, the team had a strong comeback.
Last season, rider Braedan Lehman was even able to qualify for Regionals. She was covered in a publication by the IHSA about Salisbury’s comeback to riding.
This year, the team has grown to around ten. Now, two members are set to qualify for regionals. Riders qualify based on points, which are awarded based on place at shows. If a rider is pinned-given a ribbon- they receive points.
For example, a first-place ribbon is seven points, and it takes 18 to qualify for the lower classes at the show. Once you have the 18, you move up to the next class and the points restart.
These points also accumulate year to year, so your goal is “to get pinned as many times as possible,” Toscani says.
To practice for shows, the team practices every Sunday at 11am at Horse Power Show Hunters. Lessons are an hour, and practice is two hours. During lessons, each rider works on different skills.
The team is gearing up for their big show next semester they are hosting at Breezy Run. This is their debut show, first hosting since Covid, with a new coach and by themselves. It is in an indoor arena, which is a benefit since it snowed at their last co-hosted show.
“The barn is an escape,” Toscani says. The team aims to welcome anyone with any level of experience to enjoy riding.
By HAILEY DEARES
Featured image courtesy of Paige Taylor