The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Equestrian team isn’t horsing around

Amanda Gray | Friday, November 20, 2009

The members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s combined equestrian team have been successful in recent competitions and have bonded with each other on long bus rides — even when the bus smells like a barn.

“There’s not much vanity in a group of girls who enjoy smelling like horses and have manure on their boots,” co-captain Mia Genereux, a freshman, said. “Horse shows take up tons of time because they are always on weekends, but we love traveling together and bonding on the bus as a team.”

The team will participate in a competition at Saint Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, Ind., this weekend against schools such as Purdue University, University of Illinois, Indiana University and Butler University, Genereux said.

Genereux and co-captain Mary Cecelia Mitsch, a Graphics artist for The Observer, received second and first place, respectively, at the first competition of the year.

“Riding is equally a psychological sport as much as a physical sport,” Mitsch said. “Horses have minds of their own and dealing with them requires patience — learning when to give and when to take. Those are all lessons that are important in other aspects of life, too. I have known early on that I need to keep horses in my life forever, and the equestrian team allows me to do so throughout college.”

The team, started in 1987 between the two schools, practices at a barn about 40 minutes away from campus, Genereux said. The team now has more than 30 members.

“The competition is really tough and the shows are challenging because each rider draws a horse that you likely have never ridden and aren’t given any time to practice,” Genereux said. “I have always shown horses which I’ve owned and worked with for a long time, so this was surprising and very different for me.

“A rider at an [Intercollegiate Horse Show Association] show might draw a horse that is easy and straightforward to ride, but much of the time, the rider and horse may not get along right away, so making the best of the situation is the challenge. It is fun meeting riders from other schools at each show,” she said.

The team’s members all come from different experience levels, from novice to experienced, Genereux said.

“Whether the rider has been riding her whole life or just started in college, she can compete for ND which is really cool,” Genereux said. “Riders compete against others who have similar ability. The classes themselves are judged on the individual and individual awards are presented, but each rider contributes to the team’s points for each show.”
Genereux said the team has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“In the past few years, Notre Dame Equestrian has had riders qualifying for Regional and National competitions and we’d love to get back there this year if not next,” Genereux said. “The team has had two good finishes at shows already this year, and we think we can still improve.”

For more information about the team, visit www.nd.edu/~ndhorse