California Riding Magazine • December, 2009

Students Saddle Up
Santa Barbara Equestrian Team
off to a great start.

by Ashley Gordon

The Equestrian Team at UCSB was founded in 2008 by Lexi Pandell and Kim Kaslow. All levels of experience are welcome and encouraged to join, from newcomers to the sport like Jackie Hartsough, who has always loved horses from afar but never ridden one, to members like 2009-2010 co-captains Katie Sievers and Randi Golde, who are seasoned dressage competitors having gone as high as FEI level competition. The team currently consists of 23 members ranging from freshmen to fifth-year students. The UCSB squad did well at its first IHSA show of the season, ribboning in several flat and over-fences classes at the early November competition hosted by Cal Poly Pomona.

With Pandell spending the year abroad in Ghana, responsibility for the team has fallen to Katie Sievers and Randi Golde. Not enough credit can be given to them for the success of the team this year. Both seniors with rigorous class schedules, they have managed to take care of the tedious logistical paperwork required by both the school and the IHSA, as well as keep track of the numerous deadlines and recruit new members. They have essentially been the lifeblood of the team this past year.

It has been a hard start for the Equestrian Team at the University of California Santa Barbara. Severe budget cuts within the UC system have limited class availability and restricted enrollment. With these hardships at the forefront of university priority, the school has been able to offer little support for athletics, let alone an infant organization.
Despite the weight of the economic crisis and mounting disquiet within the equestrian community over increasing costs for maintaining their equine companions, an important message the team hopes to get out is that people can continue riding throughout college. For the SB team, this has been possible in large part by the outstanding efforts and dedication of its members and the Santa Barbara community.

The team’s coach is Rebecca Atwater, a nationally ranked competitor and hunter/jumper trainer at Santa Barbara Stables since 1995. She has been incredibly helpful, offering a flexible schedule to the athletes, all full-time college students with highly varied schedules, as well as discounting lessons by 30 percent. There are also working student positions available for any member interested, allowing students to work off a portion of lesson costs as well as gain horsemanship skills and experience.

Rebecca Atwater & Lexi Pandell.

Support Welcomed

For owners having difficulty paying for their horses or who don’t have enough time to ride as much as they or their horse would like, the team suggests contributing it for the day to the show of a local school with an equestrian team. For making their horse available, owners get a stipend of $100 minimum per show, plus an additional $20 for every class the horse participates in beyond the required five. This is particularly good for horses that would benefit from show experience and the broad array of sights and sounds that accompany such an event.

The team has a bright outlook on the future. After three years of being a team, it will stop being a “club organization” and will become an official “club sport.” What does this mean? For one, it will be able to stop calling itself the Equestrian Team at UCSB and start being the UCSB Equestrian Team. For another, and more importantly, it will be eligible for funding above the initial club start-up money the school gives to all beginning clubs.

The team had some high points last year, securing a few blue ribbons and even Reserve High Point at a show hosted by Cal Poly Pomona. Though overall they were low in the final standings, the team is thrilled they were even able to compete their first year. This season, with the rollover point system, enthusiastic new members, and a year of experience behind them, there is plenty of opportunity for the team to qualify for regionals.

“Last year was all about starting the team, and this year is all about foundation,” says co-captain Sievers. “We, of course, want to win, but nothing is successful without a solid foundation and we’d much rather start slow and right, setting us up for success in the long term.”

If you would like more information about The Equestrian Team at the University of California Santa Barbara, or if you are interested in sponsoring the team or making a donation, please e-mail ucsbequestrianteam@gmail.com, visit the Amapola Ranch website, our Facebook group Official Equestrian Club Team at UCSB, or the Santa Barbara Stables website.

Author Ashley Marie Golden is a full-time undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Barbara as well as a member of the school’s equestrian team. She has been riding for eight years and has training in hunter/jumper, western pleasure and saddle seat disciplines.