Bryan Fries
Staff Writer

With competitions still a month away, the Equestrian Club’s members said they expect a good showing this season.
The Equestrian Club boasts 57 members but only two males, though as freshman rider Sarah Smith said, “More guys should do it.”
Experience and skill vary from member to member within the club. Sophomore Allison Erkman has been riding competitively for 14 years, whereas this is Smith’s first year of competition. While a few of the members have horses back home, few have horses in Knoxville and many do not own a horse at all.
Despite the ranging levels of exposure to the competitive side of horsemanship, Erkman expects a strong year.
“We have a really strong team this year,” Erkman said. “We have a lot of new members that are very experienced.”
The club is broken down into two divisions for competition: Western, or stock seat, and English, or Hunt seat. While many members choose to focus on one division, some participate in both.
The first competition for the English division is the weekend of Oct. 6 at The University of the South-Sewanee. Western competes the weekend of Oct. 19 at Murray State University.
The divisions differ in a number of ways.
In both divisions, a rider is judged on their horsemanship during rail work, a portion of the competition in which the rider exhibits different walking styles of the horse. In Western, the rider performs the walk, the jog and the lope. In English, the rider performs the walk, the trot and the canter.
Then Western riders participate in an event called reining, which entails a complex pattern of different moves with the horse. Meanwhile, English riders participate in jumping events.
While jumping and steering the horse may be tough for many riders, many of them also must cope with an unfamiliar horse. They often pick their horses randomly, most of the time ending up with one they have never ridden before.
“That’s where the team aspect comes into play,” Erkman, captain of the Western division, said. “Someone else may have ridden your horse before, so they can give you tips.”
The helpfulness of the Tennessee riders helped them place in the region last year, in both Western and English.
The club shows under the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, grouped into a region with schools from the states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and western Kentucky.
UT is not able to host a competition, because they do not possess an equine facility. The team travels to Hunter Hallow Farm in Lenoir City to practice.
The club was founded in the mid-1970s with the goal of “enhancing student equitation skills and competing in competitions that match their level of experience and skill,” according to the RecSports Web site. The club costs $100 to ride either Western or English, $150 to ride both divisions and for new members, and $50 to be in the club but not compete.