UW equestrian team, a horses’ best friend

For some their college must have a football team, others it may be small classroom sizes, but for Jessica Brown, her college needed to have an equestrian team.

Brown is now the president of the RSO Equestrian Team here at the University of Wyoming, and she loves it.

“I’ve grown up riding and competing horses, so it was very important to me that I continued this through college,” Brown said. “Having a competitive Equestrian Team was a large part of why I choose to come to UW, and I joined right away after starting school here. I’ve continued to be on the team because of the love I’ve developed for our horses, our coach and my teammates.”

The team started in the early 1990s with Karen Hansen starting the organization. Now it has grown to become a strong competitive group of horse loving individuals. They practice twice a week, once at the UW Hansen Arena and the other at the Spur Ridge Equestrian Center, each practice lasting for two to three hours.

Once they saddle their horses, which changes each practice to give the most experience to the rider, they ride in a group of five to eight practicing the walk, trot/jog, canter/lope and jump over fences. Then they take some quality time to cool down with their horses for the day and finish practice.

“They practice to gain experience and be more competitive,” said Brenda Alexander, the RSO’s advisor since 2006. “Horses for practice are brought in by other members of the team as well as members of the community. UW owns a few horses that are also used for practice. You compete on horses provided by the host team, so it is in your best interest to be accomplished at riding all horses.”

As a team, they tend to return home after events as high point or reserve high point team, which are both top-notch qualifications. Their shows consist of four each year, two of which are English style riding and the other two Western style riding. The difference between the two is the saddle and what the riders are scored on throughout the event. Most of the shows are in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, all of which are under the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

The team consists of 30 to 40 students each year. It often competes well, receiving distinguishing awards at the end of the events and qualifying nationally.

The team also has a social aspect in addition to the competitive aspect.

“We usually do a party for the holidays, as well as typical bonding things such as movie nights,” Brown said. “We hold team bonding events for us to become closer as a competitive team, and so that we can spend time together away from the horses. It’s important that we all are friends and get along, as we spend a lot of time together between practices and shows.”

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