Other Riding Tips

Horseback Riding in College: Tips from Brandon Morin

Reining-Brandon-Morin
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Written by Brandon Morin

College Team: University of Findlay (Learn More)
State: Ohio
Year in College: Graduate Student
Joined Team: 2014
Riding Discipline(s): Western

About Brandon: I am from Hillsboro, New Hampshire. I rode on University of Findlay’s (UF) Western IHSA Team for four years and earned two National Championships. I have Bachelor’s Degrees in Western Equestrian Studies and Equine Business Management and am a graduate student working on my Master’s in Education. I’m also now serving as a Graduate Assistant for UF’s Western IHSA Team.

Collegiate Equestrian Interview

Q: What was your pre-college horse experience?

I rode in local open shows and Level 1 AQHA shows. Most of my time prior to college was spent at the barn or elsewhere on the back of a horse.

Q: What were equestrian team tryouts like?

Our team tryouts are run as closely to the IHSA format as possible. Each person tries out for their IHSA division, draws a horse, and shows alongside the other riders in their division. Our try-outs span three days. Each ride is scored, and the members are chosen the next week.

Q: Describe a typical week on the team.

We offer three practice options per week. During practice, we work on strengthening position, feel, and riding smart in in arena. We practice patterns and emphasize riding effectively and accurately through patterns. At UF, we are very fortunate to have many professional horseman and judges to offer advice and coach us throughout the year.

The facility allows us to offer many horse shows throughout the year, and we usually host many post-season shows including Regionals and Semi-Finals. Our team is very efficient at running horse shows, and we have gotten it down to a science!

Everyone on the team works very well together to make these shows a success.

Western-Brandon-Morin

Once a week, we have a mandatory team workout/team building activity. We work on strengthening our core and our legs during this workout and also utilize this time to bring the team together with fun activities like volleyball or basketball. I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun parts of the week!

Each semester, our team also volunteers at a therapeutic riding facility in Ottawa, Ohio. “Challenged Champions” offers many types of equine therapy and, in order to service as many people as they do, they need volunteers. Once a week, three members from our team go on a rotation and volunteer at this organization and make an impact on our community.

Our community supports our riding teams immensely, so volunteering is one way we can give back.

Q: What type of riding did you choose and why?

In IHSA, I competed in horsemanship. Horsemanship is a great foundation for riding in any discipline. Balanced riding, and the ability to put a horse through a pattern can help you improve in showing any discipline.

Showing in IHSA helped me show in other disciplines. In IHSA, it is all about “catch riding.” When you go and show your own horse or a horse you have been training, it is much easier because you remove many of the unknowns. With catch riding, you draw a random horse to show that day.

I also enjoy competing in the AQHA all-around events. I have tried just about every western discipline, as that was my major at UF.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: What are some challenges of balancing academic and equestrian responsibilities?

Luckily for me, most of my academic obligations were also equine obligations, seeing as I was an equestrian major. That does not mean life was all about riding horses though.

I still had to attend to all of my other academics, such as math, science, English, and business. The keys to balancing horses and academics is time management and motivation. You have to want to succeed. Procrastination is not an option.

The way I looked at it was that I was lucky enough to ride every day during college, so I had no excuse to not do my school work.

Q: What’s one “rookie mistake” you made?

When I was a sophomore, I was a team rider at an IHSA show and forgot to put my back number on. I went in to show… and was disqualified. Not placing was disappointing, but taking those points away from my teammates felt even worse.

Before you show, you should definitely have a mental (or physical) check list!

Q: What have horses taught you?

Horse-Brandon-MorinHorses show us that just when you think you are getting good, you still have so much more to learn.

Every horse is different and has something to offer you.

They have also taught me patience and to adapt your techniques to fit the unique horse you are riding. Horses do not care if they win or lose, so you cannot expect that out of them!

Q: If you could travel back in time to your first day on the team and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I wish I could have told myself that I would not get better waiting for the answers to come along. I had to proactively hunt for them.

Q: Why should students join a college equestrian team?

If you plan on showing horses post-college, riding on a college team will make you a better showman altogether. You will learn how to deal with nerves, make a plan, and show to the best of your ability.

Many of our team members have gone on to be successful horse trainers and coaches. Many of these opportunities were due, in part, to their involvement with the college team.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DhGmevNGdc]
horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

I need to have my hat! Having a well-shaped, quality hat is a must for any western show outfit.

Q: Who is your favorite horse to ride and why?

My favorite IHSA horse that I rode on the team was Addie. Addie is a favorite of many, and she gave me my first National Championship. She is one of the most honest and straightforward horses I’ve ever ridden.

About the Team Shop Horse Rookie Riding Essentials Meet More Students

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About the author

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Brandon Morin

I am from Hillsboro, New Hampshire. I rode on University of Findlay’s (UF) Western IHSA Team for four years and earned two National Championships. I have Bachelor’s Degrees in Western Equestrian Studies and Equine Business Management and am a graduate student working on my Master’s in Education. I’m also now serving as a Graduate Assistant for UF’s Western IHSA Team.