Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport

(Pablo Alcala/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)
(Pablo Alcala/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)

When people think about athletics at the University of Massachusetts, popular sports like basketball, hockey and football may often come to mind. However, a wide variety of lesser-known teams compete for UMass, as well.
One of those teams is the dressage team.

Dressage is an equestrian sport in which riders are judged based on their ability to make a horse perform specific movements with what appears to be minimal effort. Team member Jackie Cimino explained that riders try to get horses to transition from one type of movement to another. This should look effortless, and the judges should not be able to tell that the rider is communicating with the horse at all.

Team member Elizabeth Noyes described dressage as a sport that is “about the harmony between the horse and the rider.” As a competitor, a rider and their horse are judged on “how precise you can be, how smooth and rhythmic you can be,” Noyes said. It is about “showing the judge that you and your horse are in unison.”

Cimino, a junior BDIC major, started riding when she was 5 years old, and she began dressage at UMass when a friend convinced her to join the team. Cimino said that joining the dressage team was “probably one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Noyes, a sophomore neuroscience major, joined the dressage team the first semester of her freshman year. Noyes has been riding horses since she was 4 years old and has been taking lessons since she was 8.

Team member Maddie Carey, a freshman pre-veterinary major, has also been riding since childhood. Carey said she joined the team because dressage is closest to the type of riding she does at home.

This year, there are seven other members of the dressage team in addition to Noyes, Cimino and Carey. Although the team is technically co-ed, this year all of its members are women.

The team rides 25 horses at UMass that have been trained for dressage. When the team travels for competitions, they are expected to perform routines with horses provided by the schools they compete at. Therefore, team members practice with all of the UMass horses, although Noyes admitted that “everyone has their favorites.”

In dressage, there are four different levels that riders compete at. These levels are intro level, lower training level, upper training level and first level, which is the highest level they can achieve. Riders move up levels by accumulating points in competitions. Cimino rides at lower level, while Noyes and Carey ride at upper level.

Collegian dressage teams are divided into regions. The colleges compete with other schools within their region in a series of competitions. UMass is a member of region B, which also includes the University of Vermont, the University of Connecticut, Mount Holyoke College, Post University and Bard College.

During competitions, teams of four are judged on how well their individual members perform during a ride. The top three scores of each team are added up to calculate a final overall score. Because the teams in these competitions can only have four people, UMass typically sends two teams to each competition.

Last semester, the UMass dressage team participated in three competitions. During the competition that was held at UMass, the two UMass teams came in first and second. A second competition was held at Mount Holyoke College, where the UMass teams placed fourth and fifth. A third competition was held at UConn, where UMass came in fifth overall.

Riders who score the highest in their level each year go on to compete in a national competition. Last year, UMass team member Willa Brown made it to nationals, where she came in 11th place. Noyes said that UMass hopes to make it to nationals again next year.

In order to prepare for competitions, the team practices twice a week. Each practice is two hours long.

According to Cimino, as one of the smaller athletic teams at UMass, the dressage team often does not get a lot of funding. However, she explained that the team makes do with what it has. Noyes described the members of the dressage team as a group that will “help each other out (and) support each other.”

“We have a lot of fun together,” Carey said.

Rose Gottlieb can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *