Wilmington, Ohio – This week’s World Equestrian Center – Wilmington Sunday Spotlight shines on the nationally recognized Miami University Equestrian Team (MUET). MUET is a competitive club team of 90 students competing in three disciplines and all levels. Not only do the talented student athletes compete in horse shows for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (ISHA), but head coach of the Hunt Seat team, Heather Pinnick, travels off campus with a group of school horses and students to horse shows around the east coast. Pinnick brought 11 horses and riders to WEC – Wilmington for Winter Classic #1 and took time out of her busy show day to talk to us about her team.
WEC: How has WEC influenced your riders and your team?
It is relatively close for us, so being able to come and do the shows gives the riders an opportunity to go back in the ring over multiple days. If we have a mistake or we are working on something they can go back and fix it, whereas in IHSA they don’t have that chance to try again. When they get to ride the same horse for the whole weekend, they have the opportunity to replicate it and be consistent.
At a show like WEC, every student is responsible to take care of their own horse that they are riding that weekend. It is a great learning experience to bring them here because some riders do not have a lot of experience or a long show background. Some students don’t know how to wrap or lunge when they come to MUET, so the horsemanship skills that we are able to teach them at this show is really valuable.
WEC: Tell us about the Miami University Equestrian Team.
There are around 90 students that ride on the team. We have three disciplines, hunt seat, western and dressage. 65 riders of the team are hunt seat. The students are required to take care of their horse for their lessons and clean their tack. They must do so many hours of community service as a part of the club team. We also host a home show for the IHSA during each semester. They all work a pre and a post shift of the show and then a shift during the show per semester.
We teach classes through our sports leadership and management program where we teach kids that have never sat on a horse before, so we have horses that accommodate that. Everyone at Miami really likes to teach and my favorite thing is finding what works for each individual person. In learning each person’s style, you must adjust your teaching style.
WEC: How has MUET made an impact on young riders in the industry?
We have riders of all levels and backgrounds. Especially for the IHSA team, we offer walk-trot to the open level, so some students basically learn to ride at school. Since we have riders from all different backgrounds, we are lucky enough to have such a great group of school horses that we can help riders reinvent their skill set or try a new discipline that maybe they didn’t have an opportunity to do before. A lot of students relearn the fun of riding with MUET. The team is so supportive of each other, and they all want to watch each other. There is a great team camaraderie. It also teaches so many life lessons outside of the sport. It teaches the kids how to be happy for their friend. Some days you don’t win, and that’s okay, but it teaches them how to be happy for their friend that did because it was their turn for a good day.
Tess Von Hemel – MUET Intern
For me personally, the team has created such lasting friendships which made the biggest difference for me in college. I am from Oklahoma, so it was a far way to school. The team was a home on campus for me. From a riding standpoint, six years ago I would never have seen myself in a teaching role. Being in the role that I am now with amazing riders and amazing horses has made me such a versatile rider and that is so valuable in this industry. I had never ridden a jumper before I came to Miami, and MUET gave me the opportunity to learn that new skill set on great horses. The people that I met through MUET are people that will be my friends for my whole life.
Thank you, Heather, for taking the time to speak with us. We wish MUET continued good luck throughout the show season!