Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What's the tryout process?
We hold tryouts at the beginning of each semester. Typically we will do "paper" tryouts, which will consist of an informal interview at our info session where we will ask about your riding experience so we can gage what division you will be in. It's very important that you are honest about your abilities, it's generally better to place into a lower division where you will be more competitive and earn more points for the team! We try to make it possible for everyone who wants to ride horses to be able to participate in our team. That said, we will always prioritize the divisions we need filled at any given year (some years, we may need a Walk/Trot rider more than we need someone who can compete in Open).
Q: How much does it cost?
Team dues are $475 a semester or $750 if you pay for both semesters at the same time. Non-drivers will pay an additional $25 per semester to help with gas costs for drivers.
Lessons: In addition to dues, team members are required to take at least one lesson a week. Lessons cost $65/ea for once-a-week lessons ($845 per semester), or $55/ea for twice-a-week lessons ($1,430 per semester). Payment plans are available on a case-by-case basis.
Equipment: All team members are required to have an approved helmet, paddock boots and half chaps or tall boots, and gloves. If you plan on showing, you will need tan breeches, a show shirt, and a hunt coat. Depending on the quality and brands you choose, equipment could cost you from $300 to $1,000 but it should last your entire college riding career. Our sponsor Valencia Saddlery offers us a discount on show clothes and we usually have some items available to be borrowed or bought used from other team members.
Q: Does everyone compete?
If you want to compete, we will do our best to accommodate you! We love to encourage all members to compete, but we do have the goal of going to Zones and Nationals as a team, so depending on how we're doing that season we may have to consistently show our strongest riders in each division.
Q: Do I need my own horse?
Nope! Part of IHSA competition is riding lots of different types of horses, so you will get to take lessons on many of our wonderful team horses. If you have your own horse and would like to board him or her at the team barn while you're at USC, you can email Coach Kathryn Griffiths for rates and stall availability.
Q: Who is eligible to join?
Any currently enrolled full-time undergraduate student is eligible to join the team. We take freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, super seniors, transfers, and spring admits who are taking 16 or more credits that semester and have above a 2.0 GPA (USC's requirement to participate in club sports). Although we have been a majority female team in recent years, boys should not be discouraged because we are co-ed! Graduate students are unfortunately not eligible to join the team, but if you competed in IHSA undergrad, you can take lessons at our barn and travel with us.
Q: What's the time commitment?
Team members are required to take at least one lesson per week. In general, you need a four-hour block in your schedule to comfortably get to your lesson and return to campus. Team members are also required to attend all local competitions in order to help with horse handling. We also require members to participate in fundraising events, of which there are usually three per semester, including one large fundraiser each semester.
Q: What's the difference between a club sport and a varsity sport at USC?
Much like the Varsity sports, the USC Equestrian Team participates in Homecoming, Football Tailgates, and Trojan Family Weekend. But, because USC is unable to offer Equestrian as a Varsity sport the team is classified as a club sport, meaning we are responsible for our own budgeting, fundraising, travel, and recruitment. At USC, club sports also must recruit our own team physicians and gain access to therapeutic and injury prevention supplies through sponsorship.
The main difference between a club and varsity sport is that a varsity sport is fully funded by the school, and a club sport is mostly funded by dues and fundraising. We typically receive a small sum of money from the school, but last year it covered less than 10% of our expenses which is why fundraising is so important for the success of our team.
Q: Do you offer scholarships or financial aid?
Thanks to Melisse and Jason Mossy, both of whom attended USC, a need-based scholarship of $500 will be awarded each semester to a selected member of the team to help pay for team-related costs. Melisse is the founder of the Equestrian Team at USC, hence the title of the scholarship. For inquiries regarding this scholarship, please contact captain Emilie Frede at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can I schedule a barn visit?
Yes! Please email Coach Kathryn Griffiths to schedule a time to come visit the barn.