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Equestrian team looks to join NCAA

Kailey McCarthy

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With growing involvement since its founding in 2010, The University of Alabama’s Equestrian Team, which is part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, intends to become a varsity sport next fall.

Taylor Templin, president of the equestrian program, said she is proud to call herself a member of the team.

“The equestrian program is composed of an extremely passionate group of individuals who work to be the best horsemen and women we can be,” Templin said. “We strive to turn a traditionally individual sport into a team atmosphere while representing our school to the best of our abilities.”

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The team was founded in the fall 2010 by a small group of students. The ISHA levels of competition range from beginner walk-trot through the most advanced open level.

Elizabeth Allen, secretary of the team, has been with the team since its founding.

“The equestrian team has gradually changed since its start,” Allen said. “Every year the team grows and becomes more competitive. I look forward to competing in NCAA competitions soon. The equestrian team allows me to continue doing what I love while representing my school with people who are now like family. It is a fantastic combination.”

Haley Mapes, equestrian team vice president, said her participation on the team has been an integral part of her college career.

“The people I’ve met through this program and the experiences we’ve had together are irreplaceable,” Mapes said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being a part of this team has not only helped me grow as a rider but as a person as well. The team has come such a long way and continues to improve with each year. My team is like my family. Whether we are at a competition or not, weekends are best spent with my teammates.”

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In the midst of competition season, the team practices throughout the week and competes on weekends.

“We practice two to three times a week at Westminster Farms in Northport, Ala.,” Templin said. She said Sunday’s competition was the very first time The University of Alabama has hosted an IHSA competition.

Following their competition this past weekend, Templin said the team will travel to Athens, Ga., in March to compete in the regional competition.

“You must have qualified sometime throughout the year in order to be eligible for this competition,” Templin said. “If you advance from there, you may go on to compete at Zones and then onto Nationals.”

The Equestrian Team encourages beginning riders to try out for a spot.

“The team holds tryouts each fall, and anyone from beginning riders to advanced riders are encouraged to tryout,” Templin said. “We try to keep the team at a manageable number of 25, so spots are limited.”

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Equestrian team looks to join NCAA