In the Locker Room: Oberlin Equestrian Continues to Grow
You may not see members of the Oberlin College Equestrian Team practicing on North Fields, wearing chaps around campus or lugging helmets under their arms. Do not be fooled, though. OCET is one of the largest club sports, formidable in competition and perpetuating the project of helping Oberlin students to explore their varied passions.
With upwards of 40 members on the team ranging from first-years to seniors, OCET has grown to be at its largest size ever. The smooth management of such a massive team is due largely to the team’s five officers: senior President Lisa Greenberg, junior Co-Chair Robin Holmes, junior Secretary Lauren Cunningham, senior Treasurer Erin Romberg and junior Publicity Manager Sarah Fisher.
“I love being so involved in it, though, since I’m at the barn working or riding almost every day,” says Greenberg. “It’s like a second home.”
Along with several other riding instructors, Coach Ric Weitzel and his wife Julie are working hard to ensure that all team members are situated in lessons at the correct skill level and are improving their riding abilities.
The Weitzels are the owners of Equine Differences, the farm and training facility where OCET members ride, which is located just a few miles north of campus on Route 58. The facility has over 20 horses, several paddocks where horses can graze and fields out back for trail riding.
“Ric and Julie have been so wonderful as to build us our own section of the barn, get horses for us to use and allow us huge amounts of ring-time and equipment,” says Greenberg.
The lowest level of commitment for team members is one lesson once a week, though many ride in multiple lessons, ride their own horses or “lease” a horse for practice during a designated time during the week. Team members ride in one or more of three separate equestrian disciplines: hunt seat, western and dressage. Each specialization calls for the use of different types of horses, different equipment or “tack” and different techniques on the part of the rider.
Many members take lessons in more than one discipline, which speaks to their commitment to the sport and their willingness to improve their riding ability. Given the nature of the sport, team members are also responsible for horse care, keeping the riding facility neat and cleaning tack.
Aside from riding at home, many team members participate in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competitions in both hunt seat and western disciplines. In these competitions, OCET members are randomly assigned to ride unfamiliar horses in front of a judge and are evaluated on their abilities to perform designated tasks, such as jumping fences or showing the horse at a certain gait. This is no easy endeavor, but Oberlin is a force to be reckoned with.
During the last hunt seat competition weekend, 12 team members, including first-year newcomers Justine Black, Anna Brown, Cassie Burley, Nora Hammack and Hannah Kahn, brought the heat and managed to beat one of OCET’s biggest rivals, Lake Erie College.
“It is hard for a small liberal arts college like Oberlin to compete in our division against massive universities who have more access to funding and greater numbers,” said Holmes. “The fact that both Oberlin teams continually put competitive pressure on these schools is a testament to the quality of our program and the dedication of our coaches, advisor, officers and team members.”
Additionally, Romberg is leading the newly-chartered dressage team, which will allow team members who are dedicated to this discipline to put their skills to the test against teams from other area schools.
With all this expansion, dedication and spirit, there’s no doubt that OCET is going to remain an ever-larger presence on Oberlin’s campus. If you are interested in joining in the spring semester, regardless of your experience level, please see http://www.oberlin.edu/stuorg/ocet/contact.html.