This fall Mills offered an Equitation class (horseback riding) for P.E. credit, students paid an extra $300 for eight classes. Once a week, myself and other Mills students gathered for either private or group lessons through professional trainers at Shiloh West in Castro Valley.
Sophomore Anjali Purkayastha said “I think it’s important to have it available. It teaches responsibility, having another being dependent on you.
A lot of Dressage books say “riding is the best way to develop character.” Dressage is a discipline of riding that focuses on the cooperation between horse and rider doing complicated flatwork, which involves various riding techniques that do not include jumping. Other disciplines include Hunter/Jumper and Eventing. Horseback riding has been a great way to learn discipline and responsibility for years beyond count. Parents sign their children up to become a part of a sport that has had a long reputation of teaching important values that can be used in everyday life.
Construction of Interstate 580 began in the mid 1960s. It originally began as a four-lane freeway but soon became an eight lane one. In order to build the freeway, Alameda County had to buy the land to build it on; this included the portion of Mills College that housed its stables. Mills was forced to close the stables and the Mills College Equestrian program has been on again and off again since then.
The students this semester varied in experience, from none whatsoever to having ridden all their lives. Trainers Jamie Martin-Peterson and Susanna Holder work with students of all ages and experience.
Junior Aeron Miller and Purkayastha have been boarding their horses and riding with Martin-Peterson and Holder since coming to Mills.
Women and horses of all ages can be seen at Shiloh West, all coming together for the common purpose of relating with each other.
“Shiloh was the last barn I looked at and it was perfect, I really felt like I could trust them with my horse,” said Purkayastha.
Shiloh West really is the perfect place to work with horses. There is no pressure to compete or any signs of the stereotypical snobbishness associated with equestrians. The important thing at Shiloh West is to communicate and cooperate with horses.
With the success of the Equitation class at Mills, there has been talk of an intercollegiate riding team.
Many colleges have intercollegiate riding teams that compete against each other across the traditional riding disciplines: flatwork, hunter/jumpers, and dressage. Competing against other colleges would open up the competition and riding experience to Mills students.
In addition, competing with other colleges would remove some of the elitist attitudes commonly associated with showing.