Women from all over U.S. bring diversity to equestrian team

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From California to New Jersey, the women of the K-State equestrian team collectively represent 18 different states.

Head coach Casie Maxwell said that because the women come from many different backgrounds in competing, they bring in a vast amount of knowledge to share with their teammates.

“It really helps unite our team and gives everybody a different perspective on things,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said even international students have competed on the team, including students from Canada and the Czech Republic.

Nicholle Hatton, senior in biological systems engineering, said the women on the equestrian team can compete in one of two classes: Western or Hunter, also called English. A little more than half of the team competes in the Western class, according to the team’s roster on the K-State Athletics’ website.

“Those are two very different worlds in the horse industry,” Hatton said. “So that in itself gives the team a ton of diversity.”

Henley Adkins, junior in animal sciences and industry, competes in the Hunter class, but she said she has learned a lot about Western riding from her teammates. In return, she said she shared her knowledge of competing in the Hunter class.

“I think it really helps because we all can give a different perspective to each other, and it really broadens our horizons on riding techniques,” Adkins said.

When the coaching staff goes out on recruitment trips, Maxwell said they look for the best riders first and foremost.

“We’re strictly watching them ride,” Maxwell said. “We’re watching them athletically and watching them interact in that environment, so we are recruiting them based off of their riding ability.”

When the coaches get back from recruitment trips, they also assess the recruits’ academic histories, Maxwell said.

“We don’t blow off the academic side of things because we want them to come to school and be successful as well,” Maxwell said.

The women on the team represent 19 different majors at K-State. Almost half of the women are majoring in animal sciences and industry, but the rest range from engineering to business administration to psychology.

“We have girls, I think, in just about every college on campus,” Hatton said. “You get a good mix in majors, too. There’s three engineers on the team. We have a bunch of people in animal science, there’s psychology, there’s education. I mean, we’ve got everything.”

Although the equestrian team is diverse in many other areas, it is not racially diverse. Maxwell said she does not know why, but equestrian culture as a whole is not very racially diverse.

“It is not something that we try to avoid by any means,” Maxwell said. “There’s just not a large pool of (racial) diversity when we’re going out to recruit equestrian athletes.”

Since the equestrian team is being cut and is therefore no longer recruiting athletes, Maxwell said there are no plans to increase racial diversity within the team.

Adkins said she thinks the diversity in ages, hometowns and majors within the 31 girls on the team shows how diverse K-State is as a university.

Hatton said the K-State equestrian team only lacks diversity within equestrian culture by not having a men’s team and by being limited to college-aged athletes.

“Those are really the only two things that our team doesn’t show because we’re a collegiate sport,” Hatton said.

Hatton said in the competition circuit, not only do men compete, but there is also a wide age range of competitors from 5 years old to 90 years old.

“I think within the confines of collegiate athletics and the horse industry, we show very good diversity,” Hatton said.

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