Riding as a Day Student
BY: Emily ‘23
Emily is a day student in the tenth grade who has been a part of the Oldfields community since the eighth grade. Emily is a student who brings a lot of passion to all that she does including being up at the barn from the time the school day ends until she returns home. Emily is not only passionate about the horses and improving her skills, but also the community that exists amongst the riders and staff at the barn. This is a space where Emily feels at home, and I am glad she is able to share this with you all in her blog post. Enjoy!
Other than the beautiful campus, smiling faces, boarding and day student opportunities, and wonderful academics, a prospective family should look deeply into our Riding Program. Whether you are a prospective boarder or day student, riding at Oldfields is a great opportunity. Oldfields is not only a beneficial community academically and socially, but also athletically. Oldfields is all about “Each Girl's Success,” as shown by our School motto “Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.”
The Oldfields campus is large and has an exceptional Riding Program. Many students refer to the barn as their happy place. All of the students are supportive of each other and help provide riding knowledge as well. I have learned an immeasurable number of skills that I can use while riding and in other areas of my life. We don't just ride at Oldfields--we also work to improve our knowledge of horses. This piece will really shed light on what it is like to ride as a day student as opposed to a boarding student. There aren’t many differences between the two, which is my favorite part, as each rider has equal access to all opportunities in which they want to take part.
How is it riding as a day student?
After riding each day, day students leave campus and go home to their families, while borders go back to their dorms and prepare for dinner. Being a day student in the Riding Program has been a positive experience for me. Riding has helped me not only enhance my skills as a rider, but also to enhance my social skills. I appreciate that the day students are still treated as if they live at Oldfields, and we still get the same riding experiences as students who live on campus. The barn is my happy place and I enjoy walking up to the barn to ride during my free period. Our academic schedule allows us to have freedom to ride during the day if we choose. During the day, if I need a break, I will head up to the barn to hang out with the horses for a little while. As a day student, you go home to be with your family in the evenings, and you come to campus during the day. I particularly like how the faculty treats the day students as if we live there. We don't feel isolated or different just because we don't board.
What does our riding program offer?
Our Riding Program offers various opportunities to provide the best teaching and instruction possible. These opportunities include:
- Participation in hunter/jumper, eventing, dressage, and cross country
- Daily opportunities to ride during both semesters
- Horse show experiences
- Instruction for beginners through advanced level riders
- Learning from certified trainers and expert guest clinicians
- Competition on our Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) teams
Most equestrians ride after school each day to fulfill their athletic requirement. Some riders will even participate in a sport like lacrosse and continue riding during the same season. I enjoy lessons each day with my classmates and learning from each other.
Interscholastic Equestrian Association
I love attending horse shows with Oldfields. Every time I have shown with the barn, I learned a lot and had an amazing time. This is a wonderful way to connect with a team!
During the winter, Oldfields participates in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA). The regular season of IEA is generally from September to mid-February. During this season, each rider has the opportunity to ride in five shows without having to own a horse or their own tack. This is an amazing experience for any rider striving to improve their equitation and ability to ride unfamiliar horses.
At each show, riders generally compete in two classes—a flat class and a jumping class. They draw a random horse and have a very short amount of time to familiarize themselves with the animal. For a jumping class, they get time in the warm-up ring for two jumps and lead changes. For a flat class, there’s no warm-up allowed at all. At each IEA show, the rider gets points towards regional finals for every ribbon they earn. In order to qualify for regionals, you need a total of 18 points. If a rider earns these required points, they are able to advance to regionals. But if a rider receives 21 points or more, the rider points out and is required to move up to the next level for the following year.
During each show, the coach assigns a point rider for each class. The exception being if a large class is split, in which they would only choose one point rider for the overall section. Ribbons won count towards each rider’s individual points, but point riders get their points added to the team’s tally. At the end of each show, the teams will be ranked by the number of points that they received during the show. Their points for their placing go towards qualifying for regionals. Once a rider is at regionals, they are now required to get a certain placing in the division to move on to zones. There are both team and individual classes. If the team qualified as a whole, each team appoints one rider to compete in the team class for their division. Depending on how well the team does at regionals, they may move on to zones as well.
Once at zones, a rider once again has to receive a certain placing in order to move on to national finals. Of course, making it this far is a mighty success! Parallel to regionals, there are both team classes and individual classes. If a team and/or an individual does well, they are able to make it to national finals. Finally, Nationals! At Nationals, all of the riders who have had great success over the year compete against each other (in their respective divisions) for the title of champion in their class. Any rider who has made it this far should view this as a great accomplishment and if you have a friend or child who has made it this far, see if you are able to be there to cheer them on!
I participated in IEA last winter, and I qualified for Zones, along with two other OS riders. We had an amazing season and we had a wonderful close-knit team. We never left anyone out, because at Oldfields we want every student to feel included. Riding different horses,based on a random draw, helped me grow in my confidence. When I got nervous or upset, my teammates were the first ones to encourage me. We all took responsibility for each other and I can't wait to see what our next year of IEA will bring.
Our riding program has wonderful horses that are great teachers, showing you countless skills that ultimately improve your riding. We also have horses for different riding levels. You can work your way up or stay at your comfort level. Whether you are a rider that prefers horses that are more speedy, or a rider that would rather go slow and steady, there is a horse at Oldfields waiting for you.
I personally enjoy riding a variety of horses during the week. I have learned countless skills from each lesson horse we have on campus. Riding only one horse is also available if you choose to lease an Oldfields horse. Both options are open to students that want to not only advance academically, but also in riding. At Oldfields, the riding community shares a common passion for horses, and the horses here will advance you in your riding.
Before COVID, we had several opportunities throughout each term to participate in an optional riding clinic. These clinics are for any rider that is looking to boost their confidence, riding abilities, and get even more expertise coaching. While you still receive focused and amazing coaching from each of our dedicated coaches, it is nice to have group coaching sessions with top trainers in their field. There are different types of clinics and different levels of riding you can choose from. This makes clinics more available for all riders that want to participate.
I participated in a few clinics, and had wonderful experiences each time. You get access to world-renowned trainers that share their expertise with you. Engaging our riders in new ways is always a thought in our trainers minds. The trainers that come to Oldfields deeply care about our success and taking part in as many opportunities as possible, no matter how large or small they may be.
Our Riding Arenas
We currently have three riding arenas. We have an indoor arena and two outdoor rings. We also have cross country jumps near our upper outdoor riding arena which are great to enjoy on a warm day. The indoor arena is nice for rain, snow, wind, or whenever the weather is not rideable outdoors. There is strong and good quality footing to make it easier for the horses to ride smoothly and safe. The rings are also spacious to accompany larger group lessons.
I personally prefer riding outside, so the outdoor riding arenas are my favorite. Riding in them is great, and I especially enjoy group lessons. Riding in a group is a great way to learn from each other. We also enjoy cheering each other on through both joyful rides and rides that are more tough. Each student and rider may have a different personality, but inside we are all Oldfields Girls. The support that I get from riding and the school is truly unbelievable.
We currently have one main barn, a back barn, a small two-stall barn, and another side barn located on the opposite end of the main barn. These barns house a minimum of 20 horses. The stalls are great and the horses definitely approve of them. Oldfields also offers a boarding option, if you have a horse that you would like to board there. We welcome boarding horses as if they were always from Oldfields.
Another main part of riding is grooming and tacking up our horses, which mainly happens in the horse's stall. The stalls are spacious for tacking up and grooming, and many stalls have saddle racks to place your tack on until you tack a horse up. You will also find students talking in the stalls as they tack up, to catch up with each other.
At Oldfields we care about every student that steps foot on our campus. Oldfields has been a second home to me and many other Oldfields girls. We embrace every student's passions and engage students in activities to interact with their fellow classmates. The riding program, similar to social interactions, activities, and academics at Oldfields, has given me the confidence I would lack otherwise. I am grateful to be part of this community and enjoy my passions as a day student, while on our beautiful campus.
Hope to see you on campus soon!