Collegiate Teams and Programs

The Mount Holyoke Equestrian Center hosts three collegiate teams and a variety of options for Physical Education (PE) riding lessons. Mount Holyoke students have the opportunity to improve in a variety of disciplines with our dedicated coaches and wonderful school horses. Please reach out to the Equestrian Center at equestrian@mtholyoke.edu with any questions.

Hunter Seat

Instructor/Coach: C.J. Law, Director of Intercollegiate Riding

Hunter Seat Team Website

The varsity hunter seat equitation team competes within the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). Riders within the IHSA compete in predetermined levels based on previous experience and coaches’ evaluations. Competing in the IHSA removes the cost of horse ownership, which allows riders of all backgrounds to be involved. Competitions are based on “catch-riding” where a horse is drawn from a pool and no warm up is allowed. Divisions range from Walk/Trot, open to new riders, to the Open division, for more advanced riders. 

At Mount Holyoke, the IHSA team is made up of about 40 riders which are selected at the beginning of each semester at tryouts. Members of the team will ride a minimum of three times a week - twice in a regular PE lesson and once in a weekly team practice. Members also will complete weekly workouts, team meetings, and team bonding activities.

Consistently ranked among the top teams within the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, the Mount Holyoke College varsity hunter seat team has won many titles. Those championships include three IHSA National Championships, four Tournament of Champions titles and a Mid-South Classic Championship.

Riding Time Received:

  • Standard will be to ride three times per week. Twice in your PE class and once in Friday practice

Dressage

Interim Instructor/Coach:  C.J. Law, Director of Intercollegiate Riding

Dressage Team Website

The dressage team is a club team at Mount Holyoke and competes within the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA). Similar to the format of the IHSA, Riders within the IDA compete in predetermined levels based on previous experience and coaches’ evaluations. At a competition, riders randomly draw a level appropriate horse and after a 10-minute warm up, ride the dressage test appropriate for their level. Competitive riders on the dressage team are expected to capably ride Walk/Trot/Canter, though levels range from Intro (walk/trot) to First level. The IDA also offers “Dressage Seat Equitation (DSE)” Classes where riders at each level catch-ride a horse and are judged based on their position and use of aids. 

Each semester, tryouts are held to determine the competitive roster, dressage equitation roster, and non-competition Roster. There are about 12 riders on the competitive roster who will ride weekly in team practices. The dressage equitation riders will ride most weeks, but not all. Riders not on the non-competitive roster do not often ride in team practices but are an integral part of the team. Dressage team members are not required to participate in PE riding lessons, but many do. All members of the dressage team attend weekly meetings, workouts, and team bonding activities. 

The Mount Holyoke dressage team, since its creation in 1995, has won nine team regional champion titles, and four team national titles. In addition, the team has been Reserve National Champions three times. We have numerous Individual Regional and National Champion riders in all divisions as well. 

View more about Dressage at Mount Holyoke.

Riding Time Received:

  • Most weeks you will ride once a week in team practice (horse availability permitting). Club riders are encouraged to participate in the PE Riding Program.

Western

Instructor/Coach: Kelli Wainscott

Western Team Website

The western weam is a club team that competes within the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). Riders within the IHSA compete in predetermined levels based on previous experience and coaches’ evaluations. Competing in the IHSA removes the cost of horse ownership which allows riders of all backgrounds to be involved. Competitions are based in “catch-riding” where a horse is drawn from a pool and no warm up is allowed. Divisions range from Walk/Trot, open to new riders, to the Open and Reining division, for more advanced riders. Riders in Level II or Open, take reining lessons off campus with a reining trainer on reining trained horses. Level II now offers Ranch Riding as well in IHSA competitions.

After tryouts each semester, riders are placed either on the senior team or the junior team. Members of the senior team will be entered in shows. Membership on both rosters is fluid, and the teams may be switched depending on how individual riders progress. All riders play an equal role on the team, regardless of the group to they are assigned. The Western Team is open to riders of all backgrounds and skills, including those who have experience with English, Dressage, 4-H, gymkhana and any other discipline, who would like to try a new type of riding. 

Riders on the senior team will participate in a weekly team practice and are not required to participate in PE classes, though many do.  All members participate in a weekly team meeting, weekly workouts, and team bonding activities. 

In 2008, Mount Holyoke became the first liberal arts college in its region to host an active IHSA western riding team. Like dressage, the western team is a club sport that gives students unique leadership opportunities as well as a competitive western riding experience. The team has been a strong contender at both Regional and Semi-Finals for the past several years and we have sent several  individuals on to Nationals . 

Riding Time Recieved:

  • You will ride once (sometimes twice) a week in team practice. Club riders are encouraged to participate in the PE Riding Program.

PE Riding Program

Each Mount Holyoke student is required to fulfill PE requirements. The Equestrian Center offers riding classes to students of all levels that count towards this credit. This extends from no prior experience to advanced competitive riders. Students will sign up for riding PEs the same way that they sign up for classes to insure there is no conflict with academic scheduling. PE classes focused on Dressage and Hunter Seat Equitation are offered from the intermediate level up. Students may also have the option to ride in a private or semi private lesson with any of our instructors depending on school horse availability. At each lesson, students will be assigned one of our school horses to ride. We have school horses capable of teaching beginner riders to upper level equitation, dressage, and western riders. Students boarding their personal horses at the facility are welcome to ride their personal horses in lessons as long as the horse is appropriate for the level, but it is not required. Students are expected to arrive at lessons with enough time to brush and tack their horses as well as properly cool off their horses and clean their tack afterwards. Please see “Class Offerings” for more information on the classes that may be offered.

IEA Team

Mount Holyoke is also proud to have an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team. The IEA began in 2002 and was formed and organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students. Our IEA Team is a strong contender regionally and regularly sends individuals to Nationals. We frequently have members of our team matriculate at Mount Holyoke when they move on to college.