Tri-City Horse Sports had the opportunity to chat with the President of the University of Guelph Equestrian Club, Meredith Ferlatte and the University of Guelph’s OUEA team captains, Morgan Dedato and Carly Peterson. If you are interested in getting involved with horses and riding while away at school, continue reading to find out more!
Tell us a little about yourself and how your interest in horses started?
My name is Meredith Ferlatte and I am the president of the University of Guelph’s Equestrian Club for the 2016-2017 school year. I’m currently a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management program, majoring in Equine Management. My interest in horses started about 10 years ago. Like a lot of kids, I had gone through a bunch of different sports – figure skating, ballet, swimming, gymnastics, badminton – but I never found a sport I really wanted to stick with. Since I had always loved animals, when I started horseback riding it was finally the sport that stuck, and I haven’t stopped riding since. I bought my first horse in 2013 just before I entered first year, and brought him to school with me – back when the BBRM degree was split with year 1 & 2 at the Kemptville campus and year 3 & 4 at the Guelph campuses. The Kemptville campus had a barn for students to board at on the property.
What made you want to get involved with the equestrian club at the University of Guelph?
Apart from the main reason that I am in an equine program academically, I sold my horse just before I came to the Guelph campus for third year. I saw the equestrian club had some competitive riding teams, including some that show in the United States, and I thought I definitely wanted to get in on that. I started on the IHSA Hunt seat Equitation team in 2015 and absolutely love it. It has been a great way to improve my equitation on a ton of different horses, and meet a bunch of girls that now I am good friends with. Although IHSA is run as a Gryphons Varsity Sports club and not technically affiliated with the UGEC, my teammates and I enjoyed attending many of the Equestrian Clubs events to show our support – which is how I gained interest in the club. Last year’s Equestrian Club President (Aly Raschkowan) was also on the IHSA team with me so that’s how I met her.
How many members does the club have, roughly?
This year it is looking like the equestrian club will have approximately 100 members.
What is the cost to join?
The cost to join is $20 for the year. Costs after that vary based on if you join a competitive team, a lesson program, or are simply attending our equine-themed events.
Do you have to have your own horse to be a member?
You do not need your own horse to be a member! All the teams compete in a catch-riding format on horses drawn at random. These horses are supplied by the host school of that particular show, which means our riders become super versatile riding so many different horses a season. Our lesson programs also have horses provided by the barns they run out of. So no horse, no problem!
What comes along with being a member of the club?
After paying the membership fee, members get to attend most of our events such as guest speaker nights, trail ride campfires, and tack store shopping parties for free. Members are also eligible to tryout for our OUEA (hunt seat equitation) team and IDA (dressage) team. If they do not wish to compete actively, we also have lesson programs in hunter, western, dressage and eventing disciplines they can be apart of. In addition, we run both hunter and western interclub horse shows which any member of the club can do regardless if they are in a lesson program or on a team.
Do members have to join the show team?
Members do not have to be on one of the show teams. We have created lesson programs so that students are able to ride while they are at school, even if they aren’t big on competing and they just ride for fun. We also run these programs as space on the competitive teams is very limited, but we still want students to have the option of riding while at school even if they don’t make it on one of the teams.
The English and Western IHSA teams run separately from the club since they are a Guelph Gryphons varsity sports club, but a lot of their members join our club just because they love horses. We also have members that don’t ride at all and are just interested in horses. This is where you sometimes see a few animal biology and pre-vet students that enjoy our guest speaker talks equine surgeons, or reproductive specialists for example.
Where would you like to see the club go, say 5-10 years from now?
5 – 10 years from now I would like to see the club still running, and on a much larger scale. It would be great to see a lot more members, and a different equine event running every week.
It would also be nice if anyone who wanted to ride could. Hopefully with more students involved that would mean more drivers for lessons, and therefore more people being able to ride. It would be awesome to see how riders could progress if they were a beginner in first year and see how much they could accomplish if they rode with the club all 4 years.
Of course I would like to see Guelph’s equestrian teams ranked #1 on all the different circuits, but I think we keep getting closer to that, as last year all our teams had incredible seasons. For example, our OUEA team ranked 1st in their region last year! What is also cool is seeing the teams that show in the USA (that are student run & self- funded teams) out their holding their own against super competitive American universities that have varsity riding teams fully funded by their school. Just goes to show what a lot of hard work and dedication can do! Long-term, I think it would be great for Guelph to be the best Canadian university for students that want to ride post-secondary.
If people wanted to find out more information about the club, how can they do that?
There are so many ways to do this! Below are the three main ways to message us:
- Our website http://www.uoguelphequestrian.com/ has lots of info about us. General inquiries can be sent to email@example.com. The executive page also has the contact info for everyone on the executive if people have specific questions about teams or lessons.
- Our Facebook page is University of Guelph Equestrian Club (https://www.facebook.com/guelphequestrianclub/)
- Our Instagram is guelph_equestrian
Who knows, perhaps in the future you’ll find us on Twitter or Snapchat!
Tell us a little about yourselves.
My name is Carly Peterson and I am the co-captain for the University of Guelph OUEA team. I am in my final year of Child, Youth and Family BASc, and considering law school after I graduate. I have been riding since I was about 8 years old and have been riding ever since. When I was 12 years old I got my first pony named Delilah. All throughout high school I rode nearly everyday. Now that I am in university I cannot fit it in as much, which is why I am so grateful for the OUEA and our coach Linda Hale for the opportunity to stay involved in the equestrian community throughout my undergrad.
My name is Morgan Dedato and I am the other co-captain for the University of Guelph OUEA team. I am 21 years old and in my third year of the Biological Science program and am hoping to be accepted into the DVM program in the near future. I started riding horses when I was 9 and have been very dedicated to the sport ever since. When I was 14 I leased my first pony, Sabrina, and then when I was 17 I got my first horse, Chanel. I started competing at unrecognized schooling shows when I was about 11 years old. The past 4 years I have been competing on the Trillium circuit on and off. Horses are my passion and I have a lot of love for this sport which is why I decided to join the OUEA team and run as captain. The team is an amazing way to stay involved with horses and get to know people who have similar interests throughout university.
What is the Ontario University Equestrian Association (OUEA)?
The OUEA is for all Universities and Colleges in Ontario (and McGill). The organization is run solely by hard working students, and we rely on donors to help supply our shows with horses. It is an excellent way for students of many horse experience levels to continue riding and competing throughout post-secondary education. It is also financially affordable as you do not have to have your own horse to compete.
How does it differ from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA)?
We only compete in Ontario against other Canadian schools, where as IHSA competes in New York. At Guelph, the IHSA is considered varsity and it run through Guelph’s sports club, not the University of Guelph Equestrian Club. Shows are run similar to OUEA and based on equitation hunt seat style riding.
What disciplines are offered
OUEA is only English hunt seat. The divisions offered are open, intermediate, novice, and entry. Each division has a jumping class and a flat class, ranging from different heights and difficulty level. Open riders are expected to jump a max of 3’, intermediate riders jump 2’6, novice riders jump 2’3 and entry riders jump 18”. OUEA does not offer a division that has flat classes only.
As team captains, what is your role?
Our role as team captains starts in the summer and continues throughout the school year. Our first big project was organizing tryouts. It was our job to make sure Old Orchard Farm and the horses were prepared, as well as signing everyone up, arranging carpools, organizing tryout fees and running things on the actual day of tryouts. Once we had our team set up we organized our first team meeting and set up all of the memberships and lesson schedules. As the year continues we will be responsible for all entries for each show, collecting any fees, being the main contact for OUEA executive, and addressing any questions or issues a team member may have. We will also work very hard to ensure our team stays spirited and bonded throughout the year
Do people have to try out for the teams? What is required to try out?
Yes people are required to try out for both the OUEA and IHSA teams. OUEA requires in-person tryouts held at Old Orchard Farm. This year we had about 60 people try out for the team and it was one of the most competitive tryouts we have seen. In order to try out, riders must identify which division they qualify for ahead of time. If a rider does not want to compete in the division they qualify for, they are eligible to appeal up or down, but the appeal must be approved by the OUEA executive.
Tryouts run similar to a show where horses are pre-assigned at random. The riders are able to watch the horse go around the course and then they get on and jump the course. They are also able to watch their horse warm up on the flat and then get on and ride. Our coach, Linda Hale judged the tryouts and put together our team.
What is the approximate cost of being on the team?
In comparison to most equestrian events, our shows are fairly low cost. For entry fees and coaching fees, riders are looking at about 75 dollars per show. On top of that riders pay about 300 dollars per semester for lessons, and then whatever membership fees they do not already have (Guelph Equestrian Club, OUEA and OEF).
What schools do you compete against?
We compete on the central zone of the OUEA throughout the year. The other schools that are on our zone are the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Laurentian University-Cambrian College, Georgian College, Lakehead University and York University. The other zones of OUEA are West and East.
What is the show format like? How does a normal show day go?
There are four divisions (Open, Intermediate, Novice and Entry). Each division is judged over fences and on the flat so our show days can go pretty long. Shows are usually about 2 hours away for us, so our team often leaves Guelph around 4:30am to be at the show for the 7am. During each warm up, riders have the opportunity to see the horse that they have pulled and watch them jump the course and flat. Open and Intermediate are the first divisions to go. Once they are fully complete (both over fences and flat classes), novice and entry go. The day usually ends with each school showing off their spirit during a cheer-off and then awards and ribbons are distributed. Everyone must stay until the end of the show to receive ribbons and points.
Is there a year end banquet, like other horse show associations have?
Yes there is an end of the year banquet. It is always held the day after finals. This banquet runs very similar to most horse show association banquets. Ribbons for the top 10 riders are given out, as well as high point and reserve high point teams and riders. Other awards include spirit award, horse of the year and fall of the year.
What is your favourite part about being involved with OUEA?
Our team is like family. Not only do we lesson and show together but we are almost always together. We attend many dinners as a team, spend countless hours in the library together, and of course spend a lot of time talking about horses! The other amazing thing about OUEA is getting to ride so many different horses that you normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to.