Competitive Club Sports at uOttawa – The Equestrian Team

When you think of University level athletics your brain typically runs through the normal gamut of sports. Football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, track, and swimming. All are well known sports that uOttawa offers at the varsity level. However, do you ever consider golf? Or fencing? Cheerleading? Horse-back riding? Did you know that the preceding are all available teams that you can try-out for and be a part of at uOttawa? All of them! They are offered in the form of competitive clubs, each team being home to a number of exceptional athletes in their given sports. Near and dear to my heart is the University of Ottawa Equestrian Team. I have been a member for two years and I never hesitate to tell people about the amazing team that I’m am a part of.

Here are some facts about the team: 

Arena: Wesley Clover Parks

Head Coaches: Mark Struthers & Lauren Hunkin

Mascot: The Gee Gee

Roster: 22 Members

Major Wins: High Point Team – East Zone 2016/2017

High Point Team Overall – 2014/2017

Interesting Fact: The uOttawa Equestrian Team takes riders of all levels, from beginner all the way to advanced!

Now, there are normally a few questions that people have when they first learn about the team…

Q: Do you have to own your own horse?

A: Nope! The unique part about riding on a university riding team is that to make an even playing field for everyone all the horses are donated by generous horse owners, and at competitions the horse that you are given to ride, you’ve never ridden before. The horses are drawn completely at random. This is a type of riding that we like to call “catch-riding”, the specific style of riding we do is called Hunt-Seat Equitation. This type of riding’s focus is on maximizing the effectiveness of your position, to enhance your communication with horse, to demonstrate capability in the tasks assigned.

Q: So, you get a practice round first on the horse, right?

A: When we get to the competitions we learn our courses, watch the horses warm up to try and learn as much information about how they need to be ridden, then when it’s our turn to go we get on and go complete our course! No practice round, no warm up, just a sheer test of riding ability.

Q: Is uOttawa the only school that has a riding team?

A: uOttawa is actually 1 of 21 schools in Ontario, and 1 of nearly 400 schools in the United States that has a riding team. In Ontario, the team competes with the Ontario Collegiate Equestrian Association (OCEA) in the East Zone. In the United States, the team competes in Zone 2 Region 2 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).

Q: But there’s no barn at uOttawa, where do you practice? Well to answer that let’s take a look inside a typical practice day.

A: A typical practice day in the life of a uO Equestrian Team Member:

6:00 am – Wake up, want to go back to sleep, realize you have to be at school in an hour to meet with the team for the carpool to practice. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, make sure you have all of your equipment packed and ready to go.

6:40 am – Walk to school to get in the carpool to go to practice.

7:00 am – Leave school for the barn. The barn we practice at in called Wesley Clover Parks, it is located about 20 minutes away (by car) from campus.

7:15 am – Arrive at barn, put on all equipment, check the list to see which horse you’re on for this practice, then grab horse’s equipment [called tack] and get them ready. [The process of getting a horse ready is called tacking up.]

7:55 am – Mount horses, and warm up begins.

8:00 am – Practice officially starts. Work through exercises with coaches, learn both the theory behind what you’re doing, and how to do it, simultaneously, while continuing to ride your horse for that practice. Sometimes as a fun twist our coaches we’ll have us switch horses in the middle of practice.

9:00 am – Practice is over. Cool down of both you and your horse. Head back to barn from the arena.

9:10 am – Untack horse, make sure they are properly cooled off. Proceed to tack room (where equipment is stored). Clean and return equipment to where it belongs.

9:50 am – Leave barn, and return to school.

10:15 am – Walk home from school.

10:30 am – Eat second breakfast (or first lunch depends on your perspective).

11:00 am – Shower, if time permits – typically peers do not love the smell of the barn as much as you do.

11:30 – 12:30 pm – Study, complete readings, normal student stuff.

1:00 pm – Class. Something about Modern Political Thought just isn’t as fun as riding a horse.

2:30 pm – Finished class, eat (second) lunch and find somewhere to study on campus until the next class.

4:00 pm – Class. End up feeling the late afternoon slump, wish that you had a coffee with you, push through and make it to the end of class.

5:30 pm – At this point sometimes you’re done for the day, or you go to a team organized study room to get some work done.

7:00 pm – Eat dinner. Study, do readings, write essays. Attempt to go to bed at a semi reasonable time.

At uOttawa, the team is officially a competitive club, and we strive to be the best we can be. Our coaches train, and push us to make us better with every ride. They're professionals in their field who know the sport, and teach in a way that makes even the most complicated task easy to understand. This pays off when it comes to competitions because we go in confident and well-practiced.  Out of the competition arena the team is a collection of like-minded individuals who are all passionate about equestrianism. Even though we all partake in vastly different programs, by joining the team we have the chance to connect and make friends with one another. Aside from competing the team works hard both in their studies and in fundraising for the team. It’s not all hard work and no play, the team has fun by organizing different events like going to Escape Rooms, organizing mock-competitions, participating in stretch and strengthening classes, and even going rock climbing sometimes.

If you’re interested in learning more about the uOttawa Equestrian Team check us out:

If you’d like to come see us in action, catch us at one of our competitions:


January 21st 2018 – Queens University at Pause Awhile Equestrian Center

February 11th 2018 - McGill at Wesley Clover Parks

March 4th 2018 - uOttawa at Wesley Clover Parks


February 24-25 2018 - Cazenovia College (at Cazenovia College Equine Education Center) & St. Lawrence University (at Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall)

March 31st 2018 - Regionals St. Lawrence University at (Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall)

April 7th 2018 - Zones hosted by Region 1

National Championships 

May 3-6 2018- IHSA National Championships hosted by Region 1 at Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex


If you loved this article watch out for future articles where I profile the uOttawa Women’s Golf Team and other Competitive Clubs at uOttawa. 


Sources: all photos were provided by the Univerity of Ottawa Equestrian Team.