Current Issue


Equestrian Lindsay Thurber with horse

Junior psychology major Lindsay Thurber (pictured with Invisible Touch) is one of 16 members of DU's competitive equestrian team. Photo: Tim Ryan

Horses have long been a part of the Colorado landscape, but, even though there are still hitching posts next to the old Iliff School of Theology building on campus, you’re not going to see students cantering to class on horses.

What you will see are the 16 members of DU’s club equestrian team regularly heading to a stable 40 minutes away in Parker, Colo., to ride horses. Their great affection for the steeds spurs them to dedicate at least six hours weekly to English riding lessons and hack (horsey talk for practice).

Lindsay Thurber, co-president of the competitive riding club, says that all students are welcome to join, including those who’ve never saddled up. “But, usually people who are really serious about horses are the ones who stick to it because it is a lot of time,” she says.

Most of those “serious riders” have been in the saddle since childhood. Thurber, a junior psychology major, has been riding since she was 5 and competing in horse shows since she was 8.

Co-president Elizabeth Tanham, who’s been riding since she was 4, thought she’d give it up when she came to college. “But I really missed it,” says the senior international business major. “This was a way for me to continue to ride.”

“It’s kind of like a little fix,” Thurber adds.

Like DU’s other 24 club sports, the equestrian club is completely developed and administrated by its members and governed by the Club Sports Advisory Board. Each equestrian must pay for a weekly $25 riding lesson and personal gear: riding boots, pants, helmet, show shirt, hair net, gloves and a hunt coat. Their coach, Molly Rinedollar, allows them to use her 20 horses, saddles and other tack.

In collegiate horse shows, riders don’t get to choose the horse they ride, Thurber explains. Rather, riders pull numbers that correlate to horses owned by the host school. “It’s very intense because you don’t know the horse, but it really tests your riding ability,” she says.

At each show there are six levels, and within the top three levels there are two classes: flat and jumping. Team members are placed at the appropriate level and move up each time they earn 35 points, Tanham explains.

For each class competition, the coach predicts a “point rider” for the team — the rider she thinks will place the highest. The team receives the points that rider earns even if another DU rider places higher. At the end of the show, the team with the highest number of points wins.

The DU team traveled to six shows this year, competing against 11 universities from Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Texas and New Mexico. Most of the teams are school-sponsored and average 25-30 members, and a few are even Division I teams.

“That’s what makes our team special: We pay for our stuff and compete against the big schools,” Thurber explains.

This year, DU placed fourth — an impressive accomplishment for such a small team, Thurber says.

Both Thurber and Tanham agree the team works together remarkably well considering it’s made up of a diverse group of people that probably wouldn’t interact otherwise.

“We have the common horse stuff to bind us,” Tanham says.


Comments are closed.