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USU’s equestrian team makes it to semi-finals

A group of people wearing gray jackets and black cowboy hats pose for a picture.
USU Western Equestrian Team Facebook

The Utah State University Western Equestrian team left Logan Thursday night, taking 25 students and two instructors to compete for nationals.

The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) tests the skills of riders by putting them on a horse they have never ridden before and expects them to take the horses through a series of tasks.

“I’m a big fan of IHSA. Because a lot of people that compete in it go on to do great things in the horse industry," said Lean Bayles, an instructor on USU's team.

Bayles was able to compete in nationals when she was a student at USU, and now has another opportunity to compete again with her team. Her goal, of course, is to win, but she said that’s not the only benefit that she and the students can get from the team.

“I know for me, as well as a number of my students, it makes a big difference in their college experience as a whole, right? They have a family, because they have a show team," Bayles said.

Bayles said that horsemanship is more demanding than some might think, making it all the more meaningful to those that have made it this far.

“All of these students have to have a high level of commitment to be successful in this, it is not something that you can just show up and go do," Bayles said.

USU is the only school in Utah, Idaho and Nevada that has a western team, according to Bayles. She said it was the main reason she and other students were attracted to this school. Another benefit is that a student doesn’t need to own their own horse, which is difficult as a college student; IHSA’s host school provides the horses needed.

“It's just a really neat thing. And it's really great that we have the program support that we do to be able to offer that to our students," Bayles said.