A niche for horse lovers can be found in the dressage club team at UVM.
Dressage is an Olympic equestrian sport founded on a basic principle of mutual respect between horse and rider. The horse is trained to be an obedient and responsive part of the activity and relies on the rider’s body signals to direct its course of action. This type of understanding does not come easily – horses and riders are trained for years to understand the complexity of movements.
The Dressage club has 14 active members competing in Region A (New England Schools) of the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA). IDA began hosting informal dressage events for colleges in 1995 and has since grown to include riders from across the United States and Canada. In IDA competitions, horses are randomly assigned through a lottery system – riders are given 10 minutes to warm up on the horse before having to perform.
“We have a hardworking and devoted group of girls who are wonderful to work with,” said senior captain Molly Mills. “Everyone contributes a great deal back to the team and we have a ton of fun together.”
Each semester, the club attends four shows as well as IDA nationals in mid-April. On Sept. 29 and 30, the Dressage team competed in the first of these shows at the Champlain Valley Exposition. The IDA allows two groups of four team members and one coach for each competition. Team B of the Dressage club placed fifth in the overall competition. Mills and fellow captain Natasha Sprengers-Levine placed sixth and fourth at first level, respectively.
Team members have two lessons per week instructed by head coach Bonnie Timmerman at the Birch Ledge Farm in Colchester, Vt.
“We have some very talented riders and a terrific coach who just got the Intercollegiate Dressage Association National Coach of the Year Award,” Mills said.
Tryouts for the club occur in the fall semester and are open to all backgrounds and experience levels.
Mills said people looking to learn more about the team can email her or Sprengers-Levine.
The Dressage club will be back in action Oct. 13 at University of Connecticut and Mount Holyoke College Nov. 3 and 4.