Amherst College IHSA
The Amherst College Equestrian Team moved to Biscuit Hill Farm in 2001. The team is co-ed and is recognized as a club sport by the Association of Amherst Students. Currently Amherst has over thirty riders who hail from all over the United States and abroad. They range in experience from the students who had never sat on a horse before to students who were on ponies before they could walk. Many team members rode when they were younger and have decided to return to the sport in college. Riders take one or two group lessons a week, and the lesson groups are organized by ability. John and Beth Manning do the majority of coaching for the team and provide the use of Biscuit Hill’s school horses as well.
About half of the team competes in intercollegiate shows. Amherst is in one of the most competitive regions in the country, Zone I Region 3 of the IHSA, which includes Mount Holyoke College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Smith College, Williams College, and Becker College, among others. Intercollegiate competition differs from USA Equestrian events in that riders compete on the horses of the host school and may not ride their assigned horse before their class. Riders show as part of a team in addition to showing as an individual, and an experienced rider’s ribbon contributes as many points towards the team’s overall score as a beginner’s ribbon. In other words, first-place in the highest division is worth as many points as first place in the lowest division. Amherst enters riders in every intercollegiate class from Walk-Trot to Open Fences and encourages riders of all abilities and show backgrounds to compete. With rising popularity on campus and a strong freshman class, the team has been particularly competitive in the 2004-2005 season.
Despite the relatively small size of the team compared to other varsity teams in the region, Amherst and Biscuit Hill host an Intercollegiate show every semester. Regardless of whether or not they compete, all Amherst team members work to prepare the barn and the horses for the show and help to make the show run smoothly. The community riders and boarders at Biscuit Hill also generously contribute their time, energy, and occasionally even their horses. The warm atmosphere of Biscuit Hill and the honesty of the horses make the Amherst show a Zone I Region 3 favorite semester after semester.
Amherst riders lead busy lives, majoring in subjects from chemistry to music to French, playing varsity sports, writing for various publications, and working in the community. But the team does manage to spend time together away from the barn. Each semester ends with a dinner with the whole team and the Mannings, and riders always look forward to the traditional visit to Bub’s Bar-B-Q the night before the Amherst Intercollegiate show. With the support and excellent coaching of the Mannings and the facilities available at Biscuit Hill, the Amherst Equestrian Team continues to grow as a presence on campus and in the IHSA.