Head coach Danielle Cole committed to the Hillsdale equestrian team this fall, helping refine and develop a program that holds a legacy of national competition participants.
Since the equestrian team was reintroduced to campus two years ago, it has been closely tied to the equestrian club, though now the team seeks to separate the two groups.
“Previously [the club and the team] had existed together and this year we are definitely separating [them]. That is what we are trying to fix this year,” said senior Anna Purzycka, co-president of the team and hunt seat captain. “The equestrian club is headed out by a different person, and that is social things like trail rides; the equestrian team, which is registered with the club recreational sports, is only competing.”
The separation is possible since Cole decided to coach the team. Cole coaches riders at Premier Equestrian Center in Hudson, Mich., and is a friend of Kathy Connor, the faculty advisor of the equestrian club and team.
“[Connor] does a great job, but she can only be spread so thin – being our advisor and a coach and filling all the other positions. It just helps having an actual coach forming the team,” junior Daniel Kish, co-president and western captain said.
The team has 11 competing members and two members who only practice. Each member typically either competes in hunt seat – also know as English style – or western style. Before each show, the team will practice once.
“We are optimistic – most of the riders will be attending and showing in the competition. It being my first year, I’m not so sure what to expect from the competition, but you know, we’ll go ready for whatever happens,” Cole said.
Before the equestrian team disbanded, Hillsdale’s team won at Nationals. The team hopes to build up to that level again.
“Our advisor Professor Connor said years ago they had a regular competing team that won at the national level and they had talked about it and that’s kind of where they want to get it back to,” Kish said.
Kish and Purzycka mentioned that donors have been encouraging in restarting the team.
“In the past there have been donors who have wanted to donate horses,” Kish said. “Professor Connor said there was one donor who wanted to build us a full facility with arena and stalls and everything, so I know there are donors out there.”
The team’s first show for hunt seat and western competitions will be Oct. 5 – 6.
“I’m thrilled that we have had the response this year that we have had as far as the numbers,” Cole said. “Really it is about getting them showing and getting them some experience, and hopefully individual riders move up to the next level.”