St. Mary’s Equestrian Team Prepares for IHSA Competitions in Spring

You may not know it but St. Mary’s has an equestrian team. We spend crazy amounts of time riding horses, getting up before dark for shows many miles away, and fundraising to finance our expensive sport.

The St. Mary’s Equestrian Team is a horseback-riding club sport which competes against both varsity and club teams from other colleges in the Baltimore/D.C./Northern Virginia area in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).

The team currently has 14 members, 8 of which are new this year. Recent efforts in recruiting and spreading awareness of the team has resulted in a slew of first-year riders, giving our team a lot of potential to rise to the top of the 16-team region.

The St. Mary’s Equestrian Team has been around for over 14 years, riding at A Moment In Time Stables (AMIT), a Leonardtown farm owned by Bobby Lindley and home to over 70 horses. Thanks to donations, the team has a few horses to call our own.

Twice each week, team members drive 30 minutes up to the barn which is by the St. Mary’s County fairgrounds to take lessons with AMIT instructors and the new St. Mary’s Equestrian Team coach, Holly Stello.

Holly is a professional Equitation rider from New Jersey who moved to the area last April. She has ridden for most of her life and trained with famous and talented riders and she’s here to pass her knowledge on to us!

So far she’s done an excellent job of whipping us into shape for our fall riding season which started in early October.

Along with our new coach, we have welcomed 8 new riders to the team, 7 of which are new to St. Mary’s. After membership dwindled last year, we sorely needed new riders and, thankfully, our recruiting efforts have paid off and our team is back on top again! Currently, we are in 8th place out of 16 schools—not bad for a team that is much smaller than most!

On most weekends during the school year (both Fall and Spring semesters), the Equestrian Team competes at stables across the Baltimore/D.C./Northern Virginia area, riding the horses of other competing colleges in the region.

The IHSA competitions are in the English riding style with an emphasis on equitation which pays especial attention to the rider’s position and movement while riding on the flat (walk, trot, canter) and over jumps.

Part of the challenge of the IHSA competition is riding an unfamiliar horse and, within a few minutes, create the bond between horse and rider that is so essential to the sport. Ahead of the team are 3 more shows before the end of the school year.

To cap off the season, a Regional competition is held and, so far, two team members have qualified to ride. Last year, riders qualified for both Zones and Regionals so maybe this year they’ll have what it takes to go one step farther to Nationals in Lexington, Kentucky!

So, just remember: if you see someone walking around campus in riding breeches, (which look like weird leggings with leather patches on the inner thigh) or wearing riding boots, they’re probably on their way back from training to kick butt this Spring. Give them a wave and cheer them on! With new talent and new leadership, things are looking good for our team’s future.

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