Penn State Equestrian Team Gearing Up For New Season
The Penn State Equestrian Team (PSET) is saddling up for the 2023-24 season as the team’s first competition approaches on October 7 and 8.
PSET is a club sport at Penn State, competing across the country during the academic year in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) with a focus on hunt-seat equitation in jumping or flat work. The IHSA offers a variety of competitions on a wide scale of experience levels ranging from the highest level, the Open Division, to intermediary and beginner divisions. IHSA gives university students the chance to compete in equestrian events regardless of riding experience.
IHSA also serves as an affordable option for college students wishing to get involved in equestrian sports. Each member of PSET takes lessons each week with coach Kristin Gretok at Gretok’s family-owned barn, Kocher Equestrian Center. Riders rotate between horses so they can improve their skills on multiple horses. That way, when the team travels to another school, they’re prepared to ride unfamiliar horses. This way of competition tests the riders’ horsemanship rather than the horse.
“We do a really good job of prepping riders to ride a variety of horses,” PSET President Molly Drass said.
During the fall semester, PSET competes in regional IHSA competitions preparing for the spring semester where riders compete at the national level against numerous colleges.
PSET currently has 75 members on the riding roster, but this number fluctuates depending on the year and the number of horses the team has. Members of the team have a wide range of skills and experience, with some members never having sat on a horse before team tryouts.
“We have this really diverse group on the team in terms of majors, experience, and involvement,” Drass said. “We try and foster this environment where members with strong experience can teach beginner riders horsemanship throughout the course of the year.”
The team currently has about nine horses donated by alumni of the program and donors with horses who are stepping down from professional competition. The team occasionally gets new horses donated each year.
Drass has always loved horses, and PSET was a large influence on why she chose Penn State.
“It’s a very individual sport but how they transform it in college to be a team sport is really cool,” Drass said.
Drass entered the club as a freshman at Penn State in 2020. Due to the club’s activities being moved entirely online, she decided to take her courses online, travel back home, and compete on the equestrian circuit. Drass came back in the fall of 2021 when the team resumed in-person lessons.
As the captain and president of the team for the 2023-2024 academic year, Drass is looking forward to attending shows and cheering on her teammates.
“I’m so excited to see how my teammates have grown in skill and horsemanship and getting to spend time with them at horse shows,” Drass said. “The team becomes a family on campus.”
Drass says that the club’s structure makes it extremely easy to meet new people while also having a good time.
“To new members, I suggest getting involved as much as possible,” Drass said. “You really get out what you put in. Try and make friends with the girls you see and attend as many events as you can.”
To learn more about PSET, check out the team’s Instagram.
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