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Meagan Cole

When these girls aren’t being the chaperones for trail rides, they’re working hard in lessons, hacking, and even showing. The Roanoke College Equestrian Team makes weekly trips up to their coach’s family owned barn all the way in Natural Bridge, an exit south of Lexington.

Upon arriving, Carolyn Williams helps them tack the horses, which basically means dressing it for the ride. Unlike most sports, the Equestrian Team has to be aware of themselves, as well as a literal ton of another life to be exact. In short, brushing down a horse’s coat and properly positioning the saddle and bridle are just as important, if not more so, as riding, because a rider can’t train if the horses aren’t taken care of.

Once the horses are as ready as their riders, the girls practice for hours. If the rider is getting ready for a show, she needs proper equitation above all else, equitation being posture and form. Also, if the rider is at the level for which she’s jumping, then she must be able to find her distance, which means she must control the horse’s take-off and landing as well as the number of strides the horse takes between each jump. Finally, there are three speeds at which the horses can be moving: walk, trot, and canter. Being on the Equestrian Team does not just deal with a pretty presentation; it also deals with careful calculation.

While some have been around horses their entire lives, others are beginners. The Equestrian Team takes anybody interested, regardless of a person’s level of experience, male and female, and Coach Williams is more than willing to get any rider into shape. The team always comes away from the arena better and equally tuckered out from the exercise, but they all genuinely love it.

Feel free to contact the Team Captain, Annie Watson, at adwatson@mail.roanoke.edu. The Equestrian Team’s next show is October 4th, and trail rides are open to Roanoke College students every Saturday, provided the interested party signs up through the Colket Center and pays a small fee prior to the date of the ride.