Reflection of Faith: The Hallmark of Walsh’s Equestrian Team Success

This spring, the Walsh University Equestrian Team made club history by advancing to the National Semi-Final Competition for the first time. After a competitive season with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (ISHA), Walsh Co-President Maria Wells ’20 earned the reserve championship title, 2nd place in the whole region, which advanced her to the National Semi-Finals located at West Virginia University. Fellow teammate freshman Bayleigh Carver also qualified for the regional competition at Lake Erie College, but fell one place short of advancing to  the regional finals.   

“Unfortunately, just a few days after I qualified, they canceled the rest of the season due to COVID-19,” said Maria, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in April and will be pursuing her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Walsh. “To say I was heart-broken is an understatement. I so badly wanted to represent our small team from Walsh University in a positive light at Semi-Finals. I really wanted the show to be an opportunity for the team to get more recognition, so more college students could have the opportunity to ride.”

Club Co-Presidents Maria and Hope Rubera ’20 cite faith as the catalyst for not only their team’s success but also their overall enjoyment in competitive riding, which is teaching them valuable skills and life-lessons that they will carry throughout their lives. Before each competition the team joins together in prayer and have found that in many ways, riding together as a team is a reflection of their Catholic faith.

“Riding teaches our team to reflect on the many fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. As Christians, we believe that the salvation of a person is reflected in the fruits of the spirit that they exhibit towards others,” said Maria. “For example, in order to establish a good relationship with a horse, it is important to be kind. Horses demand respect or else they probably will not listen to their rider. A rider cannot demand too much from a horse at one time. The same goes for people. Treating others with kindness is how Christians establish friendships and portray the work of the Holy Spirit.”

The American Youth Horse Council states that involvement with horses has a positive impact on human development. Research shows that working with horses helps young adults develop positive values and life skills that are transferred to adult daily life including better decision-making, communicating, goal-setting and problem-solving skills.  

“Horses are truly therapeutic for humans in so many ways. They have taught me more about trust and in turn more about trusting God and trusting others. They have taught me so much about perseverance in failures and commitment as well as determination,” said Hope, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies this April. “We come across many different experiences in riding horses, many challenges, and all the skills we learn are helpful in being able to work with others in the future. Whether it is a child who needs someone to be more patient or a friend who needs help persevering, many tools have been gained in being able to ride and work with horses.”

Over the past four years under the guidance of coach Jamie Binegar, Walsh riders consistently placed high in their classes, earning first, second, and third place finishes against larger university teams with more established histories including the University of Findlay, Lake Erie College, Bowling Green, the University of Akron and Kent State University. This past year, the team competed at four of the regular season horse shows.

“Our team jokes that though we are small in number, we are mighty,” said Maria. “Since we are not an official collegiate team, we are 100% responsible for fundraising to cover costs associated with memberships, show fees, and show clothes. We also cover the cost of coach's insurance, and paying our coach for lessons. Showing horses is quite pricey. We like to fundraise for as many of the costs as possible, so that price is never a hindrance to students interested in joining.” 

Even though Maria is planning to pursue her DPT at Walsh, she and Hope have been preparing to pass over the “reins” to new leadership next year. 

“I am so proud of the team and all they have accomplished, especially in the support they have shown for one another,” said Faculty Advisor Walsh Associate Professor, DeVille School of Business Dr. Karen Stock.

For more information about the Walsh Equestrian Club, contact Dr. Karen Stock at