Instead of me babbling on today, I thought we’d mix things up a little. Brooke Watson is a senior, International Studies major with a concentration in Security Studies from Madison, Connecticut. She’s been riding since she was four years old (definitely has me beat!) and has all kinds of different experiences with horses. At home, she rides western, which is super cool! It’s something I’ve always wanted to try. She’s been a part of the team for all of her time at Dickinson and is also a former captain, so I asked her to share her insight into what she thinks of our fabulous little team.
How did you first get involved with horses?
My mom bought me a thoroughbred, and I have owned a horse ever since then.
How did you make the adjustment from riding western to doing equitation for the team?
I actually showed the hunt seat on the AQHA circuit for ten years before we bought my newest horse, so I had a lot of experience prior to joining the team. The transition was tough, but I managed to work through it mainly because I had so many years of experience before switching to western.
What made you join the team?
I didn’t look at colleges without an equestrian team because I wanted to try and continue my riding while at school. I had a few offers from D1 schools to join their teams, but I decided that I wanted to do it at a less intense level. I also wanted a group to fit in with, so I thought the team would be a great place to start because we all had at least one common interest.
How did you hear about the team?
I did a lot of research before looking at schools, so I had actually contacted Lindsay (our coach) before I came down to look at Dickinson to try and get to the farm, etc.
What is your favorite thing about being on the team?
The group dynamic is one of my favorite parts. So many of the girls and I have crossed paths at one point or know the same people in the horse world, so it goes to show that the horse world is a small world. My roommate is on the team as well as some of my closest friends, and I love to travel with everyone and have fun! We are also very competitive within our region, so I enjoy going to shows and being a part of a team that is really talented.
What was it like to be captain of the team?
Being captain was really tough, mainly because all eyes are on you all of the time. The decisions you make and the things you say are always being judged or watched, so the level of responsibility is not for everyone. I took a much stronger approach than other captains have in the past, which I think some people appreciated and some definitely did not. The balance of being in charge while still trying to maintain friendships is probably the most difficult part of being captain in my opinion. You want to be everybody’s friend, but you also need attention and respect, and that line can be blurred sometimes. Overall, though, it was probably my favorite semester on the team and I would truly do it again in a heartbeat.
How would you describe the team?
Equestrian teams are very difficult to manage because the sport itself is an individual one. When we are in the arena, it is every person for themselves and that proves difficult when you’re trying to root for others and be a part of a team. So, on the one hand, you have to be competitive as an individual, but you also have to operate as a larger group. I think the team, for the most part, is very inclusive and we really do like to spend time with each other. From time to time we have our issues, but it does come with the territory of being an individually centered “team.”
How is the team different now from when you first joined?
Being an upperclassman on the team is markedly different from being a first year. For me, I was “adopted” by three upperclassmen off the bat when I joined the team, so I felt included from the start. Some of my closest friends when I joined are still my closest friends as a senior, which I think most members of the team would be able to say. I think the team got a lot more competitive in the past year or two as a whole, and the team is stronger rather than having a few strong individuals. The team is about 1/3 larger than it was when I joined, which has caused some issues financially but it shows that we are becoming more popular and attractive as a sport club on campus.
Do you have any advice for new members?
I strongly encourage new members to just dive in and start to make friends as soon as possible. Though it may not seem like it, we are all approachable and I absolutely love getting to know new members through social activities, traveling to shows, and getting meals with everybody. The people that complain we aren’t social enough or are unapproachable are the ones that do not make an effort and expect everyone else to go to them. I also highly recommend that you go to shows even if you aren’t showing, because you have more time to hang out with the group and become more in tune with everyone.
And there you have it. Thanks so much, Brooke, for being a part of my blog! I really appreciate it. I hope everyone found it beneficial to hear about the team from a different perspective. Everyone has different insights, so it’s cool to hear how the team works from other voices. Hope you enjoyed it!