As the fall sports season comes into full swing, the equestrian team is preparing for an unpredictable semester.
All 49 women athletes on the roster will compete in either the Western or Hunter Seat concentration, though 20 of them are participating in their first year, making it difficult to set predictions for the fall season.
Head coach Casie Maxwell said the collegiate team rankings have not been posted, but should be available the first week of September.
“I think after this fall semester, we’ll have a pretty good preview of where we stand and what to really expect from them,” Maxwell said. “I can’t tell you what our great area of strength is going to be right now.”
This season, there are several opportunities to watch the Wildcats compete at home between the five home competitions and one scrimmage.
“It is a great way for people to come out, understand the sport better and support K-State equestrian,” Maxwell said.
All home competitions are free and open to the public and will be held at Timbercreek Stables, located at 9000 Elk Creek Road, Manhattan, Kansas (about four miles east of campus). Parking is available with signage and parking staff to direct spectators.
K-State equestrian features four captains this year, including seniors Madison Wayda and Savannah Smith, junior Danielle Kemper and sophomore Chelsea Buttermore.
Maxwell said captains are not chosen because they are the best competitors, but rather are voted on by their teammates. The coaches expect them to be supportive of team philosophies and goals and help keep the team on track while achieving those goals. Right now, they are focused on team building and getting adjusted to each other.
“They are people that, to their teammates have been leaders, have been committed to this team, to being a good athlete and a good student,” Maxwell said.
Per NCAA rules, each athlete can only practice a maximum of 20 hours each week.
“On an average week, anywhere between 12 to 20 hours per week is what they’re committing to working out in the weight room, to practicing and to team meetings,” Maxwell said. “That does not include their class study time or anything – that is strictly athletically related.”
According to Maxwell, the team tries to not excel in one area of competition over another, and is recruited and trained evenly.
“It’s very equal between them,” Maxwell said. “We expect the same out of all of them; we try not to be stronger in one area than the other.”
Maxwell said K-State has 50 horses they compete on and that it is a random draw, whether it is a home or away competition, as to how the rider will perform. No one trains on one particular horse to get to know them.
“The whole goal of this program is to have a very versatile, very adaptable rider,” Maxwell said. “So, home or away, we’re putting them on as many different horses as possible, rotating them as often as we possibly can to prepare them to draw any kind of horse. That is kind of what the program is based around.”