Equestrian team attracts new and seasoned horse lovers

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Alexis Mildren, a second-year new media design student, is the co-captain of RIT’s equestrian team.

Alexis Mildren, a second-year new media design student from Mardela Springs, Md., is the co-captain of RIT’s equestrian team.

The team, which is a part of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), participates in competitions, also known as shows. They show in IHSA Zone 2 Region 1 against other upstate New York schools.

The RIT team hosts two shows a year. The equestrian team has two disciplines: English and western. The English team has 13 members taking weekly lessons and the western team has six members.

The weekly lessons with coaches are open to show team members as well as non-competing members. The team also has social and fundraising events including movie nights, boot-polishing parties, and picnics.

When did your love of riding begin?

I started riding when I was 5 years old and I started riding in English hunters, which is what I have continued to ride in for the past 14 years. Personally, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love horses. My dad’s close friend had a farm, and as a kid, I used to go out and help care for the horses and do chores. By the time I was old enough to take lessons, I was doing just that. I think as I’ve grown up, what has kept me loving this sport is the connection and trust you build with these amazing animals. It truly is a unique experience.

Do you have your own horse for competitions?

I have never owned my own horse, but I have leased many over the years. My most recent lease was the summer before freshman year at RIT. The horse’s name was Halo and he was a great horse. He taught me a lot as well as helped me grow my confidence in the show ring. For team lessons, we use the horses that Lehman Farms provides for us.

What do you like best about competing?

I enjoy competing because it gives me a chance to put my skills to the test against many other great riders. It’s a chance for me to also look at what I could improve on during lessons and training. What I enjoy about competing with RIT is the team aspect. Not many people know that we are a competitive team and that we turn a traditionally individual sport into something team-oriented. This sport can often feel like you have to be better than everyone around you, but with the IHSA circuit, it’s a chance to feel like you can work as a team and root for each other.

Did the equestrian club factor into your decision to attend RIT?

The club definitely influenced my decision to attend RIT. When you’ve put so much time into a sport, it’s hard to give it up just for college. When looking at schools, I wanted to go somewhere I could pursue my passion for design, while also still getting to do the sport I love.

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