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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs Equestrian team rides their way to victory

Bulldogs Equestrian team rides their way to victory
Bulldogs Equestrian team rides their way to victory

Mississippi State University’s equestrian team rode their way to victory last weekend at Auburn to round out a successful fall season.

Composed of a Western and English team, MSU’s equestrian team is part of the Inter-Collegiate Horse Show Association, or IHSA, and competes against teams from nearby schools such as Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. This past weekend, they attended a competition at Auburn where the Western team placed first, earning the distinction of high point champions.

Head coach Ashley Glenn said one of the most unique challenges about the sport is the riders do not compete on the horses they practice with; at shows, horses are paired with riders by literally pulling names out of a hat.

“They’re just getting on an unfamiliar horse and going in and performing to the best of their ability and the best of their horse’s ability with the knowledge that they have just from watching these horses school and be warmed up by other people,” Glenn said.

Senior Alyson Addy, the captain of the English team, said riding new horses every show is intimidating at first, but eventually becomes less so.

“It’s really nerve-wracking the first couple of times you do it, but this is my second year on the team here and I’ve gotten pretty used to it,” Addy said.

Addy, who has an ex-racehorse named Chester at home, grew up riding and said she was the quintessential “horse girl.”

“I was that little girl who loved horses,” Addy said. ”Some people grew out of it, I never did.”

Riding horses is a great way to relax and clear your mind, Addy said.

“I’ve always been drawn to horses. It’s a great stress reliever,” Addy said. “Everybody comes out there and we’re not thinking about our busy schedules, we just get to take time and ride.”

Junior Madison Eckloff, the captain of the Western team, also grew up riding horses and loving the sport for its intangibles. One of Eckloff’s favorite things about riding, especially on MSU’s team, is how it is individually competitive, but there is still such great team support.

“We’re all competitive, but we’re still a family,” Eckloff said.

Glenn agrees there is just something special about this MSU’s team.

“I really like the energy of the riders we have. We really have a tremendous group of kids,” Glenn said. “They’re passionate about the sport, they’re passionate about the school, and that makes my job a whole lot easier when they’re willing to work hard. They really strive to make us coaches proud.”

Glenn grew up riding, and went on to ride in college for Texas A&M’s equestrian team, which won two national championships while she was there. After college, she worked in the horse industry for a while, then transitioned to coaching, coming to MSU in 2015.

Glenn’s goal ever since her arrival has been to increase the competitiveness and quality of MSU’s equestrian program. The team practices on their horses at South Farm several times a week, as well as working out at the Sanderson. They even have a weekly 6 a.m. team run.

Addy can attest to the fact that Glenn’s arrival really turned the program around.

“We’re becoming more known. Because before, I think it was just a few girls that would come out. But then when coach Glenn pulled the team, reorganized it and made it bigger, people know that we’re there. We stand out and we’re winning. Everybody’s been placing in all the classes,” Addy said. “We used to go to shows and come home with 2 or 3 ribbons, whereas now, every rider has a ribbon, everybody’s making points and everybody’s contributing to how successful we are.”

However, Glenn’s favorite part of coaching extends beyond just the technicalities of horsemanship.

“I love being able to help everyone become better riders, but really I think the best part about it is having the opportunity to be a positive influence to all these young riders,” Glenn said. “I know that they’re going to leave here and they may not continue to ride, but they can take other things away from this to help better themselves in the future.”

Looking forward, Glenn thinks there is a good chance of several MSU riders qualifying for post-season competitions, possibly even nationals. The team’s next competition is Feb. 2 at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Eckloff said the team is currently focusing on the next season.

“Having our eye on next season. Our next show isn’t for a while,” Eckloff said. “(So we’re focusing on) keeping that momentum going into the next semester and coming out on top again.”

About the Contributor
Hannah Blankenship
Hannah Blankenship, Former Editor-in-Chief
Hannah Blankenship served as Editor-in-Chief of The Reflector from 2021 to 2022. She also served as the Managing Editor from 2020 to 2021 and as the News Editor from 2019 to 2020. Hannah was named College Journalist of the Year at the 2022 Southeastern Journalism Conference.
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Bulldogs Equestrian team rides their way to victory