Undefeated squad hopes to continue streak
Photo credit: uOttawa Equestrian
The University of Ottawa equestrian Gee-Gees have made great leaps and bounds this year.
Tori Turner, a fourth-year human kinetics student and the team’s president for the second consecutive year, says the team has had a great season so far.
“We are currently undefeated,” said Turner.“We’ve been a high point team at every single horse show with OUEA (the Ontario University Equestrian Association) this year and we’ve also won every team spirit award.”
Turner is particularly pleased with these results as the Gee-Gees regularly compete against teams from Queen’s and Trent University, who have 50 people try out for their team. In comparison, the U of O has 18 team members split between two circuits.
Riders from all levels can add big points to the team’s overall score. Riders compete individually and their score is added to the team total, creating competition within the team itself that helps motivate riders.
The points awarded to less experienced members competing in lower-level divisions count just as much as those competing in the higher divisions. Every member of the team is as important as the next.
For seven years, hunter-jumper expert Mark Struthers and grand-prix competitor Lauren Hunkin have coached the team at Synergy Farm in Ashton, Ont., about a half-hour drive southwest of campus. Their combined knowledge, experience and support has been integral to the success of the Gee-Gees team. The members carpool to the farm for weekly lessons, and also to the horse shows, often with Struthers joining them for assistance.
The Gee-Gees are in search of a new walk-trot rider as their current star Lisa Le is set to graduate this year.
“It’s important to fill those gaps because it definitely adds up at the end of the day … We’re always looking for people of all sorts of levels and it’s actually harder for us to find people who don’t have much experience,” said Turner.
The team usually conducts a major tryout in September, but this year they’re hosting a second on Nov. 30 for riders who would begin in January.
“You don’t know until you try if you’re going to like it or not like it, so contact us and give it a go,” said Turner.
Horse riding is an expensive sport, which can intimidate new members. The university partially funds the club to help out with travel costs.
“As a rider you are only responsible for outfitting yourself, so breeches, your show shirt, your helmet and your boots are the things you need to have,” said Turner. “Otherwise, everything regarding the horses and equipment for the horses is not something you have to pay for. We’re very lucky and appreciative of what funding we do get.”
The team is now eagerly anticipating the rest of the season. Their next show will be hosted by York at Forest Hill Farm on Jan. 11.
Next semester, the Gee-Gees will compete in Toronto for two weekends and at their own event, jointly hosted with Carleton. The team hopes a home advantage will help them continue their winning streak.