Practicing perfection:

Taylor Wolken, equestrian team member, practices her form on Bubba the horse.

Photo by Tamara Rodgers

Posted at 4:50 p.m., Nov. 7, 2014

Team jumps into season

The difficulty is making it look easy.

It may look easy, and that is the goal, but it takes a lot of strength and agility to be a successful member of Laramie County Community College’s equestrian team.

To ride a horse and to make it look effortless require great core and leg strength. Men and women equestrists work on different techniques to handle a horse. Atypical of a normal horse show, the athlete is judged on how he or she is handling the horse, appearance and posture.

Sounds simple and easy to achieve, except the competitors don’t choose the horse to compete with. They never get to show their own horses.

When the team travels, the hosting college provides the horses and tack. This creates a challenge for the team but also evens the playing field for everyone competing.

LCCC equestrian team coach Lanae McDonald explained, “You have as good of a chance as anybody else to get something great or something not as great.”

Different horses, all the time

To overcome this challenge, the team practices on different horses all the time.

Because the competing colleges provide the equipment and horses, money is not a factor or influence. Neither is the rider’s major.    
The men and women of the team are placed in divisions appropriate to their riding capabilities, and so are the horses. “It is imperative that they are placed in the correct division to be successful,” McDonald said. 

Individual riders are awarded points and try to earn enough to move into the next division. The goal is to achieve 36 points and make it to nationals. McDonald’s goal every year is for someone to compete in nationals. She has achieved that goal eight of her nine years as the LCCC equestrian coach. 

Equestrian choices

LCCC competes in Western horsemanship and hunter seat equitation. Team members can do both or choose one.

Western horsemanship is judged at the walk, jog and lope in both positions. The rider might be given a pattern that can include fluctuating degrees of circles and speeds. The athletes compete with a Western/ranch-style saddle, and their attire is meant to catch the eye with bright colors and patterns. They also wear chaps and spurs to coordinate their dress. 

Hunter seat equitation, or English equitation, requires the riders to complete varying degrees of jumps. The judges are watchful of the riders’ form as they are jumping.

Members competing in hunter seat equitation dress more conservatively than their counterparts. They wear neutral, colored buttoned shirts with collars that look like a turtleneck and an appropriate helmet. The saddle has no horn and is lighter in weight.

Currently, the LCCC team has a member in every division of the Western horsemanship, which makes them highly competitive in this category. The hunter seat has fewer members but should not be overlooked.

If you are interested in attending an equestrian event, LCCC will host a Western horsemanship competition on Nov. 22-23. You may contact Lanae McDonald at 307-778-1191 or lmcdonald@lccc.wy.edu for further information.



LCCC Equestrian scores and schedule

Intercollegiate Horse Show Association