A student from West Virginia University’s Equestrian Club has earned a third place spot in the Walk-Trot Equitation (Individual) Hunter Seat division in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s 2010 National Competition.

Alexandra Castillo, a senior of Morgantown majoring in English, international studies and Spanish in the Honors College, started out on the Equestrian Club as a freshman with no prior experience. After three years, she has made her way to nationals after winning first place in the regional and zone competitions.

“Placing at nationals meant everything to me, it represented everything I’ve worked for in the summers, winters and out of season periods for three years,” Castillo said. “This is something I’ve decided to dedicate my life to since it is very time consuming, and it’s so rewarding to see that my hard work has paid off.”

To prepare for nationals, the club members completed many fundraising events including working the concession stands for the men’s basketball games, selling candles and selling advertisements for their programs.

Physical and mental preparations were also key proponents. The club practiced three times a week in Lazy J Stables in Fairchance, Pa., and the captains of the club attended sessions with sports psychologists to share some strategies with the rest of the athletes.

“We had a meeting about how to deal with stress and channel our energy in a positive way,” Castillo said. “We also had a ‘buddy system,’ where we were matched up with a teammate to talk each other through the events and share our thoughts about what to look for in each others’ chosen horses.”

This year was the second year in the team’s 20-year history that the entire group was sent to nationals together. Castillo’s third-place finish resulted in defeating students from Cornell, Virginia Tech and Louisiana State University.

Castillo will be placed in a higher division at the next competition, and said she will work hard to attain first place this year.

“Once you start, you can’t stop – this is something I want to definitely continue doing after I’m out of college” Castillo said. “It has taught me how to handle difficult situations, and I’ve made my best friends through the team.”

The Equestrian Club is a member of Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s Zone 6 and competes among other colleges within the region. No experience is required to join either of the clubs two teams, and the members range from beginners to those who are actively competing at higher levels of their discipline.

To learn more about the equestrian club, visit http://equestrian.studentorgs.wvu.edu/.



CONTACT: University Relations- News