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Autumn Rose Farm

OSU equestrian team best in country -- again

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The Ohio State University Equestrian Team celebrated its 10th national championship last month. Riders at the contest included (from left) Coach Debbie Griffith, Coach Ollie Griffith, Ciara Bartholomew, Austin Griffith, Lidia Pedrozo, Michelle LeMaster and Caitlin Loeffler.
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The Ohio State University equestrian team captured its 10th national championship last month.

The team, which trains at Autumn Rose Farm in Dublin, sent six riders to the national competition in Harrisburg, Penn., last month to claim the team's 10th national championship title.

The team has always qualified for nationals and the six riders that clinched the title this year are Austin Griffith, Dublin; Caitlyn Loeffler, Canal Winchester; Ciara Bartholomew, Dublin, Lidia Pedrozo, Canton; Michelle LeMaster, Cincinnati; and Elissa Bening, Worthington.

"To qualify for nationals you have to be the best overall in your region," said Pedrozo, the team president.

"There are eight shows in the regular season and the top teams go to semifinals. The top three go on to nationals."

Competition isn't easy.

"There are over 400 schools that start the year and 10,000 students," Coach Ollie Griffith said.

"It's different from winning the national championship in other sports because there are only 25 teams."

Most teams have students going to school for horse training or other equestrian subjects.

"None of our students come to OSU for that reason," Griffith said.

In fact, some of the team members had never ridden before joining the team at OSU.

Pedrozo said she and Loeffler "joined the team on a whim."

"Caitlyn joined because her roommate went to a (team) meeting," Pedrozo said. "It's something that can be for anyone. I'd never touched a horse before."

"It was really exciting and a little nerve-racking," Leoffler said of making the national competition her first year on the team.

Griffith said the team offers students both a learning opportunity and a family.

"It's great to get upper-level riders, but we take beginning riders with no experience," he said.

"It's such a great opportunity. To do what they do in the typical horse world costs a lot of money," Griffith said.

"This is one area you can learn an immense amount of knowledge about without all the financial backing. All you need is show clothes."

Autumn Rose Farm has 52 horses the team practices with, which better prepares them for competition.

"The students practice here and go to the show where they draw a horse they've never ridden on or sat on," Griffith said.

"There's no warm up till you enter the ring and start riding. It levels the playing field."

Any OSU students interested in joining the team are asked to contact coaches Ollie and Debbie Griffith before the start of the school year. Competition starts early in the school year and Griffith said students need a good start.

The Griffiths can be contacted at 614-764-1881; or via email to autumnrosefarm@aol.com.

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