MSU Hunt Seat Equestrian Team uses luck, skill to compete
The , or MSUET, takes luck seriously. The luck of the draw is a common phrase for the team, and the members believe their success depends on it.
This is because horse selection for competitions is literally drawn.
When the team competes in horse shows around Michigan, the riders pick the name of the horse they’ll ride out of a hat. The school hosting the show provides horses.
“They’ll give you a few tips,” Siana Stanton, MSUET secretary, said. “But, you literally don’t get to touch your reins until somebody leads you into the ring then you just have to go jump around, or just ride it ... it’s kind of nerve-wrecking, to be really honest.”
MSUET horse show coordinator Melanie Bousquet said they are able to watch other people ride the horses, but it’s not the same as riding the horse themselves.
Stanton, an animal science junior, agreed.
“Watching somebody else ride it then riding it yourself is totally different,” she said.
Stanton said the main reason schools provide the horses for each show is so college students — who might already be low on cash — don’t need to purchase and maintain a horse of their own.
Bousquet, an interdisciplinary studies in social science junior, said horse showing was a lot different for her and Stanton before MSUET because they had their own horses. Now, since the horses are assigned randomly, a rider’s score isn’t knocked down if the horse makes a mistake, Bousquet said.
Bousquet and Stanton said riders having their own horses in previous competitions has created issues at times because the more money they spend on a nice horse, the better the horse will be. Choosing the horse to ride out of a hat helps to close that gap, Stanton said.
Bousquet said they have riders of all levels on the team.
“You have a very wide variety,” Bousquet said. “Some people didn’t horse show at all when they were younger, some did what we did, some haven’t ridden, some came from different disciplines altogether. So it brings together a lot of different backgrounds.”
All seven levels of experience — from walk trotters, or beginners, to open riders, the highest level — are represented on the team, Bousquet said.
“Every person is just as important, just because we’re on the highest level doesn’t mean that we are more important for the team,” Bousquet said.
Open rider points count for just as much as walk trot points, Stanton said. She also said there are people on the team who worked their way up from walk trot.
In their most recent show, the team scored 47 out of 50 points in one day, “which is almost unheard of,” Stanton said.
Stanton said the team and the common interest in riding horses exposed her to a group of friends she might not have met otherwise.
“We’re all great friends,” she said. “That’s one of the things that I really like about the team.”