The Equestrian Team
We’re writing in response to an article that was published about our funding request, and why one individual felt that your vote should have been no.
In the article, our funding request was put into the comparative context of the Hampshire Sports budget and roster numbers. We don’t believe comparing our team to other Hampshire teams is relevant– numbers do not accurately illustrate what resources a team has at its disposal, and each sport has its own unique set of needs. We compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), a nationwide competitive organization that is not part of the USCAA, an organization which all OPRA sports are required to be a part of. So instead, let’s compare our resources to equestrian programs across the nation– the same programs that we compete against in the IHSA.
Unlike many other programs, we do not have full-time, paid faculty members whose sole responsibility is to oversee and manage our team. We have three signers who have to juggle the management of the team alongside their academic responsibilities. In spite of this, we manage to keep our roster at about half the size of the biggest teams in our Region. Our roster does not have a set limit of ten as the article implied, it fluctuates each semester based on student interest, student commitment, and the available manpower of those who manage the team. Our roster has an average of 17 students. We do not have private equestrian facilities that are owned, operated, and paid for by the college, with stalls filled with horses owned, fed, and cared for by the college, and with private coaches who only teach riders on our team. Each semester we just do the best we can without these resources, and we do it for around $800 per rider. In addition, the Equestrian Team has never removed anyone from the roster for any reason other than misusing SAF money by disrespecting our attendance policy (which was written in collaboration with the office of Campus Leadership and Activities) and when SAF money is wasted, as outlined in our team agreement, participants are required to reimburse the SAF.
While we are significantly funded, we are not “fully” funded as stated in the article: we do actually contribute to the costs of the team, but we aim to do it without making it an elitist club only for those with big wallets. We pay a portion of our competitive fees, and we are responsible for our own transportation, equipment, attire, and food. These items are not insignificant—a full show outfit for one rider can cost upwards of $500.00. We do the best we can by carpooling to practices and competitions as well as using donated or borrowed equipment whenever we can. Competitions often last the entire day, and we all pay for our food out of pocket. It is not uncommon for us to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at one competition. So, much like the other groups described in the article, we are, in many ways, “without meeting food, transportation, and supplies.” We recognize that the sport we love is expensive, and because of that we try to absorb as much of the cost as we can without making the club financially exclusive.
So yes, there are factors that limit the number of students who can participate, but we believe that personal financial means should not be one of those factors. If we had any professional staff to help us, and more money at our disposal, our roster would be twice its current size, and one day we hope that will be the case as it has been for Hampshire in the past. We believe in hard work, dedication, teamwork, commitment, and sportsmanship. Hampshire should be a place where you get to say, “Hey, I want to try this thing I’ve never tried before!” We don’t believe financial privilege should determine what a student can and cannot try. A number of people competing (and winning!) would not have access to do so if not for the SAF and all those who have voted “yes” on our behalf for the past several years. Many of us never even received formal riding instruction until arriving at Hampshire. In addition, the signers of the team have had a number of Hampshire applicants and transfer students reach out to us to hear about what we do. For many of us, the decision to attend Hampshire was motivated at least in part by the existence and accessibility of this team.
Our team is made up of people who share a love for the equestrian sport. Our riders are all of different ability levels, but every rider is of equal importance. This year, for the first time ever, we will be competing in the IHSA Regional Finals. We hope that the Hampshire community will support us as we pursue our passions, and we thank everyone who has helped make our dream a reality in ways big and small.
If anyone, after reading any of these articles, still has any questions about our funding request or our team, we really do encourage you to reach out to us at hampshire. firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to talk to you about our team and give you a glimpse into what is, for all of us, our Hampshire family.