Dear Team,

As I write this it’s Week 5 of the semester, and our first IHSA show of the season is only a few weeks away.

I hope you’ve enjoyed break, come back refreshed and have settled into your classes and your lessons. I hope you spent your time at home patiently waiting to get back in the saddle (or even better, riding any and everything available to you there). I hope the thing you were most looking forward to returning to was the barn. I hope that everyone has come back with a fresh attitude, and is ready to attack this semester’s shows.

I hope that everyone is working as hard as their horses in their lessons. That you are readily dropping your stirrups, riding that extra horse, asking for constructive criticism, having friends take videos of your lesson to review later, watching clinics, reading articles, and asking the coaches for help.  I know the weather is cold and miserable, but I hope that everyone is pushing themselves to be the best rider they can be, everyday. I hope that when you ride a difficult horse, you use the experience to learn and not get discouraged.  I hope that when you have a fabulous ride, you take a second to analyze what went right so you can apply it to future rides.

I hope that you are insanely excited for our first show of the season.  I hope you’re counting down the days until we get to compete together again. I hope you’ll shine your tall boots, lay out your lucky socks/jewelry/crop/whatever-else-your-lucky-token-is, and wipe the arena dust from your helmet.  I hope when you have to set that 4AM alarm you aren’t too upset (and I hope you actually wake up when said alarm goes off).

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Ready to get back in the ring with the best team I could ask for!

I hope you are ready for the charter bus rides, the early morning jam sessions, McDonald’s breakfast runs, dance parties, and watching the sun rise during the course walk.  I hope you’re ready to be the best show buddies to your fellow teammates and give the best pep talks.  I hope you are prepared to ride whatever horse you draw, to the best of your ability, and learn from that horse; because each wonderful school horse we have the opportunity to show has something to offer us.  I hope you are prepared for long days on the bleachers, ending with whatever restaurant we can find that has free bread and going to bed by 9PM to get up and do it all again the next day.

I hope you are ready to leave it all in the ring; for yourself, and for your team.

I hope you are ready to round out another season not just filled with pretty over-fences rounds and primary-colored ribbons, but–more importantly–laughter, good friends and teammates, and memories.

I know I am.

Signed,

~Your Team President

For those unfamiliar with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), we travel to other host schools in our region and show on the school horses they graciously provide. We draw our horses just prior to entering the ring and have no warm-up or prior knowledge about the horse, other than watching the horses school or asking other students who may have ridden the horse before.

I am incredibly lucky to be the student president of my university’s IHSA team for my senior year.  You can find more about IHSA and collegiate showing at: http://www.ihsainc.com/

You can learn more about Otterbein University’s Equine Science Program at: http://www.otterbein.edu/public/Academics/Departments/EquineScience/EquestrianTeam.aspx