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Auburn Equestrian Team Hosts Camps and Prepares for '09 Season

Ashlea Draa/Photo Editor
Ashlea Draa/Photo Editor

Between camps and individual workouts, the Auburn Equestrian team is staying busy this summer.

Three camps are being offered to riders of all experience levels, said Greg Williams, head coach. One is a day camp which is geared toward beginning riders in the community.

The other two are resident camps where riders stay overnight in the dorms and learn more advanced skills and techniques.

The camp runs Monday through Thursday, said sophomore Ali Loprete. Campers ride about four times a day and work on a variety of different skills.

One of these resident camps is an elite camp, which is for those who wish to be on a college equestrian team.

"We push the kids a little harder in the elite camp," Loprete said. "We get to see how well they ride and we make it a team experience for them."

The campers are given the same schedules a college team would have, including 5 a.m. workouts, Loprete said. They also work directly with all of the coaches.

"It's a lot to-ugher," Williams said. "But it's more individualized than the other camps."

At the end of each week, the campers do a demonstration for family and friends, Loprete said.

Helping out with the camps is a good way to stay in shape for the fall.

Auburn's Equestrian team members said they are all making their own individual efforts to do what they can now to prepare for the upcoming competitions.

"Right now I'm just riding as many horses as I can," said sophomore Bailey Dymond, a western horsemanship rider. "It's all about practice and conditioning yourself for the sport."

NCAA rules don't allow official workouts until after the first class day in August.

"I'm just trying to stay in shape and ride as much as possible because when school starts we get right into workouts," Loprete, a hunt seat rider, said.

The team is always working toward another national championship and the new freshmen will help boost their efforts, Dymond said.

"We want to come back and win a national championship," Dymond said. "We don't like that 'almost' win. We have a lot of good freshmen coming in, and a lot of us are stepping up our game this summer."

Williams said unity is something that makes Auburn's Equestrian team stand out.

"I love watching when they come together as a team," Williams said. "That is by far the greatest, when they are in the trenches and working together as team, when the team means more than their own individual efforts."

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Loprete said the team is one of the most hardworking teams at Auburn and that it takes every single one of them to be successful.

"We are a very strong team and we work together well," Loprete said. "I love the team experience because it's something you don't usually get in equestrian."

The team won its first national championship in 2006 and became national champions in hunt seat in 2008. Equestrian competition is broken into four categories, two hunt seat, which is English riding, and two western.

In hunt seat riding, athletes demonstrate grace and poise while jumping over a course of 3-foot-6-inch jumps or through a series of complicated maneuvers in a pattern.

These categories are called equitation over fences or equitation on the flat.

In western riding, athletes focus on posture and control while completing a series of maneuvers in the horsemanship discipline, or show off their abilities in a series of galloping circles, sliding stops and spins in the reining category.

"Our strengths come from being determined in everything we do," Dymond said. "You can have tons of practice and then have to get in that arena and try to nail everything in 40 seconds. That's where the workmanship skills come in."

While hunt seat has always been strong, Western is expected to turn some heads this year as well.

"Our Western end is building more and more," Williams said. "The athletic department is moving us toward full funding and scholarships so it's going to get better and better."

Williams said hunt seat is predicted to rank as one of the top teams in the country, if not number one.

To further its success, the equestrian program may also be getting some new facilities in the future.

"Plans for a new facility have been approved," Williams said. "Right now we're in the development stages to raise money."

The team does its own maintenance on its facilities, said Loprete, member of the 2008 National Championship team.

This makes the equestrian team different that most teams on campus, she said.

"We are trying to get something new, especially for our horses," Loprete said. "We have some of the best horses in the country."

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