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Equestrian team looks to tack national title onto recent success

Courtesy of Courtney Noonan

This weekend, the Ohio State equestrian team will represent the Buckeyes at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championship in Lexington, Ky.

The team of about 20 riders and five of its 45 horses will travel to Lexington to join the best teams from each region to compete for the top spot.

The OSET qualified for nationals as a team, and nearly each rider qualified to compete in the individual competitions.

“It’s huge that all of (the riders) have qualified to show in different events,” said Debbie Griffith, one of the OSET coaches. “It’s not an easy task to qualify throughout the year as well as through regionals and semifinals. It’s a long process.”

The team started practicing in October. It competed in eight regular season shows, and this weekend will be its third postseason show.

“We’ve gotten reserve the past two years so this year we are going to win,” said Courtney Noonan, a fourth-year in animal science and fourth-year team veteran.

The team members are a small group of people within the large OSU campus. It hasn’t been easy to keep the team large in number, Noonan said.

“It’s hard to get people and keep people,” Noonan said. “It’s expensive to people who don’t know (the sport).”

Like varsity sports, OSET has dues and other expenses in order to maintain a successful team.

Each rider is required to ride at the barn, Autumn Rose Farm in Plain City, at least once a week and attend 10 riding lessons throughout the season.

Sophie Browning, a second-year in international studies and first-year OSET member, and Noonan acknowledged that the team rides under the radar on campus, but they want to get the word out.

“We’re here and we’re good,” Noonan said.

Since 1991, the OSET has won nine national titles and five reserve national championships at the IHSA National Championship.

The last national title the OSET won was in 2008 and for the past two years it has claimed the reserve title.

Joining the OSET in Lexington this weekend will be the top eight teams from around the country: University of Findley, Oregon State University, Berry College (Mount Berry, Ga.), Murray State University (Murray, Ky.), Utah State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Black Hawk College (Moline, Ill.) and Morrisville State College (Morrisville, N.Y.).

Debbie Griffith and her husband, Ollie, have been coaching the OSET for 26 years. They have been showing horses for numerous years and said they feel confident in their team.

“I think the team has an excellent chance of winning,” Debbie said. “They’ve been working extremely hard. We’re very excited and proud of all of them.”

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