By: Margaret Lebor
Some UMW athletes have double the usual number of legs and weigh more than ten times the average human. Meet Wilbur, Ernie and Mack, the valued horse members of UMW’s equestrian team.
Wilbur’s official name is ‘State the Obvious.’ He is a 20-year old quarter horse and has been a member of the UMW Equestrian Team since 2011. According to equestrian team members, Wilbur will do just about anything for a horse snickerdoodle cookie. The only thing he loves more than snickerdoodles is teaching the beginners how to ride. He loves competing in the IHSA Walk-Trot classes and showing off how great of a teacher he is. Meeting new people is definitely a highlight of being on the team for Wilbur.
When he is not competing with the team, he likes to enjoy the college life by sleeping in late and taking his time eating his breakfast in the mornings. A fun fact about Wilbur is that he loves coming to campus and carrying his seniors across the campus for the last time before they graduate. It is a special moment for both Wilbur, and the seniors.
“Wilbur is certainly no stranger to Mary Washington’s campus,” said Olivia Blake, an alum from the class of 2019 and a former captain of the UMW Equestrian team. “He’s posed for an art class, taken other seniors on their senior ride, was a TV star on Ball Circle, and even took President Paino on a tour around Fredericksburg. Wilbur is definitely one of my favorite ponies to ride at Hazelwild because of his kindness, patience, and trustworthiness just to name a few reasons. We’ve had our share of adventures from swimming in the Potomac River to jumping in the field, and I am so grateful that I got to have my senior ride on him…a memory that will last a lifetime [for me].”
Ernie, or more formally known as Ernesto, is a 15-year-old black Hanoverian horse. He has been a team member for 6 years. According to Teresa Seay, the equestrian team coach, he really enjoys jumping big in the IHSA open fences classes at horse shows. When UMW students come back to campus each year. Ernie gets very excited to show the team how much fun jumping can be. For anyone who has had the honor of riding Ernie it is easy to see why the UMW students call him “Ernesto-the-besto.” When Ernie is not winning the blue ribbons with the team, he enjoys hanging out with his friends in his outside paddock.
“His favorite snacks are definitely peppermints,” Seay said. “A fun fact about Ernie is that he was born during a hurricane!”
UMW Equestrian Team member, Rachel Wright, and a senior Conservation Biology major says that Ernie was the first horse she ever jumped with, and that he was incredibly patient with her while she learned.
Meet Mack. At the shows he goes by Mac Callister. Mack loves the attention that comes with being on the team: it’s not every day that an entire college athletic team gives you hugs! His favorite division in IHSA is the pre-novice, which he has been doing since 2018, because he enjoys to flat around and take his time. Like any student athlete or college student, Mack loves to take naps when he is not competing. Sleeping and eating are his two-favorite hobbies, along with the occasional cuddles from his favorite humans.
“Mack is one of the first horses I rode at Hazelwild,” said Virginia Newman, a senior biology major and current equestrian team captain. “He is a very sweet, patient horse, and is eager to please. Every time I ride Mack, I end up with a huge smile on my face. He is an amazing teacher and we are so lucky to have him as a part of the Hazelwild and UMW Riding family.”
For the UMW equestrian furry athletes, it’s a great day to be an eagle — and a UMW horse!