Equestrian club president represents Team USA in international competition
Asked what distinguishes good equestrians from the merely average, Alicia Weismann, the president of the Rider University Equestrian Team, says good equestrians must be poised in the saddle, hardworking and fearless.
“You can’t just be a copilot,” she continues. “You have to take charge. You can’t expect the horse to do everything.”
For more than two years, Weismann has taken charge in prestigious national and international competitions to attain an impressive collection of equestrian awards and experiences. She recently returned from Ireland, where she was one of three college students representing the United States in the Student Riding Nations Cup.
Individually, Weismann finished first in the show jumping style and third in show jumping, competing against 45 other riders in both categories. Competing against 14 international teams, Team USA ranked sixth overall in the dressage category and fourth overall in both the show jumping category and the combined dressage and show jumping category.
Last April, Weismann was selected to compete at Longines Masters New York, considered one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the world. In 2018, she was one of only 16 accepted to compete in the Emerging Athletic Program in Findlay, Ohio, a national training center, where she received national recognition.
At Rider, Weismann, a junior, is invested in the University’s equestrian team, a club sport that allows full-time undergraduates to develop their horsemanship and compete in about 10 shows annually. The team is a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and consists this year of about 30 members. Practices are held at Black River Farm in nearby Ringoes, N.J. which is about 20 minutes from Rider.
As is customary, Weismann doesn’t ride her own horse during most competitions. Instead, riders are randomly assigned a horse and then, for the club team, broken into competitive placements. Weismann acknowledges that relying on an unfamiliar horse can be frustrating. “There’s a saying that you’re only as good as the horse underneath you,” she says. “You have to figure out the horse in 60 seconds. It’s fun, but it’s tricky, and it makes it a competitive thing.”
Weismann’s horse, Leona, turned 14 this year. She has had her for four years, and over that time, a significant bond has formed between them. When Weismann visits home in Southampton, N.J., Leona whinnies when they see each other. “There’s a lot of trust between the rider and the horse because you’re both putting each other’s lives at risk,” Weismann says. “You have the strongest bond with them. You take them on as someone who needs help, and they rely on you to help them.”
Leonna is actually the second horse Weismann has owned. She has been riding since she was 5. “I did a pony ride at a carnival, and I was hooked,” she says. “I wouldn’t stop talking about it, so my mom got me lessons.”
"By the time she turned 9, she had her own pony, but at this point, Weismann wasn’t seriously competing and was just riding for fun. A few years later, “I started lessons at a top-notch show barn and that kicked off my competitive side,” she says.
When it came time to evaluate her choices for college, she was considering going for a Division I equestrian team. “I was a little burned out from riding six days a week, so I decided to go to college and enjoy the club part of it,” she says.
She originally enrolled at Rider as a psychology major, with the dream of becoming a professional equestrian. In her first semester, she switched her major to marketing. “I love it and find all my classes very interesting,” she says.
Now, she wants to pursue the business side of the equestrian industry. Last year, while competing in Longines, she got to know the event's marketing director. In her, Weismann found a specific model of how she envisions her career — still riding high, but this time as a creative force behind the scenes instead of on the field.