California Riding Magazine •September, 2013

Collegiate Corner:
UC Davis Aggies

Overview: A Mecca for animal science studies and veterinary school hopefuls, UC Davis has four equestrian teams, including an eventing team that's part of the Intercollegiate Eventing League that started up earlier this year. Members of all four teams are "super friendly," reports Katie Rigby, a senior Aggie and the president of the dressage squad. "There's no sense of a clique and there's a lot of crossover." Katie herself is actually a long-time hunter/jumper rider at the 3'6" level, but wanted to cross train with dressage and she loves it. Another dressage team member joined with her reining-trained Quarter Horse, and another member competes for dressage on her Friesian.

Researching this article in the summer, we were unable to connect with the students who run all of Davis's teams, but the following breakdown provides a good glimpse of what's available.

Dressage Team: "We accept everyone on the team, but because Intercollegiate Dressage Association competition only has positions for eight riders per team, we give show priority to those who ride exclusively for the dressage team, over those who also ride on other teams." Show participation is also based on riding experience and contributions of volunteer efforts to the team.

All dressage team members are required to take eight lessons per quarter, from coach Lynae Ormsby, who visits the UC Davis Equestrian Center two days a week for that purpose.

In Katie's three years with the team so far, its priorities have varied. "In my freshman year, our whole team of eight made it to the IDA Nationals in Florida," Katie relays. "That was really exciting." In the intervening years, the emphasis has been on getting more riders a chance to compete, with the consequence that some individual Aggies went to Nationals, but not the whole team. Katie predicts the upcoming season will be focused on returning to the big show as a squad. For one thing, there is the prestige value in making Nationals, plus plenty of perks that can help the team going forward. Generous sponsors and a gift exchange between teams often mean free gear and other goodies, sometimes even dressage saddles, all of which help keep the cost of participation down.

Dues are $200 per quarter, not including lesson fees, which are paid directly to the coach. The dues cover everything involved with competing in the typically four to six regional shows UC Davis riders contest during the season. Fundraisers help with costs, too, and a communal closet of show attire is another team benefit. "The basic rule is that, if something fits, you can wear it," Katie explains.

Katie expects the team will host shows in October and early November, and these are great opportunities to get a feel for the team's personalities and abilities.

Aggie dressage team members range from one student who had never ridden before to those who have competed at Fourth Level. Intercollegiate Dressage competition is conducted at four levels: Intro (walk/trot), Lower and Upper Training and First Level, test 3. The levels are set to match the capabilities of horses typically ridden in IDA competition. At Davis, that's five of the school's nine horses, plus student-owned mounts.

Eventing: The UC Davis Eventing team "is a fun, inviting and competitive team made up of all kinds of riders," says its website, "We have riders ranging from Elementary through Preliminary, to those that have never evented before." The team trains under Holly Fox, and most, but not all, keep their horses at the UC Davis Equestrian Center. Each rider uses either their own horse or a leased horse in team lessons, schoolings, clinics and competitions.

"The weekly lessons are organized by level. Cross-country schoolings occur two or three times per quarter, depending on team needs. Outside clinicians, such as Brian Sabo, Gina Miles and James Alliston, are brought in one or two times a quarter for clinics. The team regularly travels to Woodside, Twin Rivers, Fresno County Horse Park, Eventful Acres and sometimes as far as Galway and Shepherd Ranch for competitions. Not all team members compete, but those that do enjoy the support and encouragement of their team members."

Hunt Seat: Woodland-based professional and UC Davis graduate Ryan Oropeza coaches the Aggies' hunter/jumper team, which usually ranges from 60-70 members. Under his tutelage, the team's riders have made several appearances at
IHSA nationals.

All teams get to enjoy the school's wonderful Equestrian Center. Its amenities include a large covered arena, a huge cross country field, separate dressage court, a sand strip for sliding stops and great stabling options.

More info: Katie says the best way to learn more about the team is to visit during a show and/or visit the UC Davis Equestrian Center any time. The staff there is well versed on the program and happy to give tours and answer questions. And team presidents are usually happy to respond to e-mail inquiries.

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