Sport | Society in focus – Horse Riding

Following the Horse of the Year show, we here at LS Sport got to wondering how keen riders could get involved at University. We caught up with LUU Horse Riding’s Sophia to learn more.

As far as societies go, Leeds University’s Horse Riding Society would appear to be one of the most welcoming to newcomers. While all societies encourage a wide range of abilities, often those keen on competing take priority.

Conversely, hosting ‘lessons’ rather than ‘training’ puts an emphasis on improvement and skills rather than competition.

Sophia says, “Our lessons take place three times a week at Wilsden Equestrian Centre near Bradford. We cater for all abilities, from never having ridden before (beginner) to experienced riders who can canter and jump (advanced).”

This is not to say, however, that this society is strictly for fun, as Leeds boasts an impressive track record in the BUCS Equestrian Leagues, with three teams competing across the Divisions.

“In the competition, all riders complete a round of dressage and show jumping on borrowed horses with their combined scores giving the final results. These competitions give students a great opportunity to keep riding at Uni without having to own their own horse.”

“We are proud to say that we’ve had a team qualify and be placed nationally the past three years running.”

Horse Riding

As the Horse of the Year Show took place last weekend, Sophia decided to help us out with some of the events and judging.

“Showing is based on turnout, movements, style and tailored to each class, this is a world away from the mounted games which are just teams racing each other to do obstacle courses on horseback.”

“The judges are looking for no faults in the round, such as a fence down, refusal or fall and as the competition progresses the fences grow higher, the course is shorter and the round becomes against the clock with the fastest time winning.”

“Other than that there are displays and dressage, judged on style.”

The main attraction on the day of the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) was undoubtedly Harry Edwards-Brady.

Despite finishing seventh in the mountain and moorland lead rein class, the Devonian trotted into the record books as the youngest ever HOYS competitor, a feat which impressed Sophia and co.

“We thought Harry Edwards Brady did amazingly! To win at HOYs at the age of 3 is a pretty mean feat.”

“Our favourite [event] was the Puissance, a specific type of showjumping featuring a giant wall which reached a height of 7ft 3 inches this year! It was won by Douglas Duffin on Volcano, there’s lots of clips on Youtube for anyone who’s interested.”

Aside from riding, the group are renowned for their fun-loving nature, as demonstrated by their semi-naked charity photoshoot two years ago.

Regular meetings on Tuesdays in Headingley are where planning and preparation take place, before letting loose at regular socials, detailed on their facebook group.

Getting involved in a new society, as we know, has never been so easy, as Give it a Go (GIAG) sessions give the opportunity to try out a new activity without the commitment usually attached. Sophia explains the details of their GIAG sessions.

“Our GIAG is the 6th of November which is a brilliant opportunity for people to see what we do and to meet the teams and committee. We’re running 2 sessions morning and afternoon to give more people the chance to come along.”

“These will include a tour of the yard, a demonstration by team members and a short riding lesson, so people can try it out. It’s a good taster before joining the club or just a fun day out in the country for those who just want to be able to say they have ridden a horse.”

So whether ticking ‘ridden a horse’ off the bucket list or hoping to hone your skills on these beautiful animals, find out all the information you need to take part at

Jamie Kirby

Image courtesy of The Telegraph

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