By Sarah Wung
Editor’s Note: The author is a staff reporter for The Pioneer and a member of the women’s equestrian team.
For students interested in horseback riding who don’t have the time to join the team, the equestrian club offers the chance to ride horses while still having time for schoolwork.
The Equestrian Club not only lets students ride horses, but also provides hands-on training in properly taking care of and handling a horse. The club members ride behind the soccer field on the east end of campus at the North Shore Equestrian Center, which houses 25-50 school horses as well as private borders.
Senior business administration major Elena Leaf, who is the Equestrian Club captain, is pleased to welcome members of all levels. “Any experience is welcomed to join the club. The club has a meeting once a week on Wednesdays to discuss lessons and horse care,” she said. “The fee to joining this club is $350 for newcomers and $300 for returning members.”
Club members are required to participate the club activities. “We don’t have anything planned yet, but we’re expecting to have a bake sale sometime in the spring,” Leaf said. The event will raise money for grooming supplies for the horses and to help lower fees for members.
The club hosts horse shows in the fall and spring, where the members “hang out and watch our Post Women’s Equestrian team ride and be there in support for them,” Leaf said. Students in the club are able to participate in shows once the club’s coach feels that they are prepared. Newcomers attend the shows to support the team.
Suzanne Phillips works at North Shore Equestrian Center and advises the club. “I’ve been teaching at North Shore Equestrian Center for 15 years and I started teaching at the age of 13,” Phillips said. Club members aren’t just getting lessons from an advanced student, but are also being trained by a teacher who builds them into stronger riders with each lesson.
The club is open to male and female students, whereas the team is currently listed as a women’s sport. “We have lots of new students for next year which are boys,” Phillips said. “That’s the real difference with the club and the team and I think that’s the way it’s going to go.”
Junior business management major Jiawei Xu has been on the club for a year and a half and enjoys every day. “I was super nervous
in the beginning, I had never been on a horse before but I was really excited to try it for the first time,” Xu said. Since joining the club, his passion for horses has grown.
“I enjoyed my lessons with Suzy [Phillips] so much, that I ended up doing private lessons with her, and now I ride every day,” he said. “I never enjoyed any other sports and I always prefer being around animals. Three years ago, I never thought I would be riding horses, but here I am,” Xu said.
“Wednesday is club day; we ride with our coach Suzy, for an hour in the evenings once a week,” Leaf said. If you’ve never ridden before and want to join the club, the best advice you can get from the coach is, “Think spring. Beginners need to be outside, my heart can’t take beginners in the indoor ring,” Phillips said. Riding outdoors gives new students a lot more space to maneuver if they don’t yet know how to steer.