Taking the reins
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Mr. Movsesian blames his daughter’s love of horses on his wife.
Ever since she was a little girl, Cheryl Movsesian remembers her mother pointing to the “pretty horses” during the Movsesian’s family road trips.
Movsesian, a junior biochemistry major, is currently team captain and president of UB’s equestrian club. The club practices in downtown Buffalo and competes in events throughout New York.
Movsesian has been riding for years and her family is always at her competitions to support her.
Especially because she had scoliosis.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in the spine. If the curve is severe, it can cause pain and make breathing difficult.
After undergoing back surgery, Movsesian had to take two years off riding to recover.
“It never really caused issues with me riding, however, it made my parents a lot more wry about me when I fell off [horses],” Movsesian said. “Those two years I couldn’t ride were really brutal on me.”
Movsesian never gave up. She got back on the horse and is now the team’s high point rider.The point rider is a rider whose points count toward the team total, which allows the team to be eligible for awards at the end of each show, according to ucscequestrian.org.
Members of the team practice at the Buffalo Equestrian Center, located in downtown Buffalo, where they are offered discounts to prepare for competitions.
The team competes in the Hunter Seat division of Zone 2 Region 1 at the intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) in New York. In an IHSA competition, colleges take turns hosting the shows and the host college is in charge of supplying the horses. This means the riders must not only adapt to new competitors and settings, but they also are introduced to a new horse minutes before entering their round.
“IHSA is a complete test of your ability as a rider to read a new horse as if you had ridden it countless times before,” Movsesian said. “It’s not about having a perfect ride. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them in the 30 seconds you have in the ring. When you’re in the ring with that horse and really connect and have a good round, you realize you’re not doing it to win; you’re doing it for the feeling of connecting with an animal you never met before in your life.”
Movsesian, as well as some of the other club’s members, found the equestrian club at UB as a place where they could share their love for horses and riding. Open to all UB undergraduates, the equestrian club welcomes all levels of horseback riders, even those without prior experience.
According to Sarah Erbes, a sophomore economics major and member of the equestrian club, most of the riders have prior experience before joining, although that is not required. She joined the club to get involved in something at UB and found horseback riding was an easy way to make friends.
Erbes, like many of her peers in the club, faced challenges dealing with new horses. Even though she owns a horse, she had to train him. Her horse constantly ran off and did not always cooperate, she said.
“It was the largest struggle I overcame,” Erbes said.
The equestrian club offers opportunities to ride both English and Western styles. Each style incorporates its own traditions and techniques, according to horses.about.com.
“Growing up in the Buffalo area has influenced [me] in relation to my riding career, because English [style] and jumping are very popular around here. That’s mostly what I do,” Erbes said.
Movsesian, too, believes her rural hometown influenced her riding. She grew up in New Hampshire, where horses, farms and horseback riding surrounded her.
The club also offers opportunities for students who want to get involved with horses but are not necessarily looking to ride.
“I think it’s really important for people to know that it doesn’t matter whether you have never ridden before or have ridden your entire life,” Movsesian said. “The way our shows are set up, you have the same advantage in the ring as anyone else.”
Aside from preparing for shows and competitions, the club participates in various activities and fundraisers on and off campus.
Last year, the team spent a day at the steeplechase races in Geneseo. A steeplechase is a race for thoroughbred horses jumping over fences, according to nationalsteeplechase.com.
The team also held a fundraiser at a horse clinic taught by George Morris, the chef d’equipe, or captain, of the U.S. show jumping team.
The team brought horses onto campus last year and gave the UB community a demonstration of what they do. Members of the club also volunteer at the therapeutic riding program hosted at the Buffalo Equestrian Center.
“I think the best part of the club is being able to show in a competitive environment, yet it is never stressful and we always have fun together,” Erbes said.