By Kaitlyn Brady / Full360 reporter
For the first time in Delaware Valley University history, the Western equestrian team is going to be given the chance to showcase their riding abilities. This year’s A-Day activities will feature a Western riding showcase as a part of the A-Day show.
Since its start in May of 1949, A-Day has been a beloved campus event, where university students could showcase agricultural events and exhibits. Part of these exhibits is the A- Day horse show, typically held on the Friday afternoon before the weekend. The show has only allowed parts of the English riding discipline, like Dressage and Hunt Seat, but this year the show will have its first ever Western classes. The main difference between the riding styles is the type of saddle used.
Western riding utilizes a heavier saddle with a deeper seat that was originally used by cowboys for herding cattle. English riding utilizes a lighter saddle that allows for riders to move around more and makes it easier for horse and rider to jump over obstacles. Western riding uses reins that are split while English riding uses a connected rein. Unlike the Dressage and Hunt Seat teams, the Western team is not an official athletics team and is instead a club sport.
“We are so excited to have our Western Team riders on campus to participate in the show,” Equine Coordinator and Assistant Taylor Adams said, “This year we will offer Western, Hunt Seat, Dressage and Driving classes in the show available for equine students and team students to participate in.” Adams had a part in the decision to hold a Western showcase this A-Day.
The Western riding team was given this opportunity because of Kaitlyn Bamper, the Western team’s secretary, as well as a member of the A-Day committee. When Bamper was elected as secretary, she said she wanted to see a change. “When I was elected, I wanted to see a change (for the team). I was already in A-Day, so I thought I’d try to get a show together.” When Bamper reached out to the Equine Department they were more than willing to go through with the show. “They were ecstatic and wanted to do it,” Bamper said. “They even asked why it has never been done before.”
Since the university primarily focuses on English riding, there were limited options for regarding Western show resources. For the Western show to occur, Bamper said that the team had to work with specific horses the university provided, as well as holding the show on the day the university chose. The Western class sizes had to be limited, with only a select few riders being given the opportunity to ride. The team also must provide their own tack and horses from the team’s home barn, Saddlebrook, since the school only has English equipment and horses.
Bamper believes this show will open way for more Western riding opportunities on campus, as well as push for the team to become an official part of Delaware Valley University athletics. Bamper says that the university’s main reasoning for the exclusion of Western activities on campus is that it is believed to be unsafe. “We can show that we can have a safe show with school horses,” Bamper said.
Bamper, along with the rest of the Western team, is hoping the A-Day showcase will work as a form of advertisement for the team. A-Day attendees will get to see select Western team riders and horses in action. The Delaware Valley University A-Day horse show is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, April 21, 2023.