By: Moira Bonadonna – Staff Writer
A group of University of Dayton students have been visiting stables and riding horses for six weeks with the newly-formed equestrian club.
Victoria Francis, a junior mechanical engineering major and club president said the group has two types of members. The majority are riding members who can take weekly lessons, however, one does not have to ride a horse to be a part of UD’s Equestrian Club. Other members have an interest in horses but mainly take part in club service outings or other events, she said.
“Clinics and service events gets members involved without have to actually get on a horse be-cause some people are hesitant about doing that,” Francis said.
The club is slowly working to add more events and grow more members, she said.
“We kind of want to put together a show team, but obviously it’s our first semester, so we’re kind of going with the flow,” Francis stated. “We’re trying to figure out what members want, but altogether we’re focusing on developing basic riding skills and if they’re already experienced, developing skills with riding in disciplines they’ve never been in before.”
UD Director of Clinical Education and club advisor Kelli Huesman said they plan to offer sever-al options for riders and auditing members of the club such as future trips to equine events in the Ohio and Kentucky areas.
“The club is meant to allow UD students with an interest in horses and all that goes along with them an opportunity to come together,” Huesman said.
The club was started by both Francis and Huesman, who worked together through winter break to bring it into fruition.
“The club got started after myself and Victoria separately had inquired if there had ever been any interest in an equine club with Shea Ryan who works with the Rec Plex,” Huesman said. “We apparently contacted him both within just a few weeks of each other. He connected us and it has taken off from there.”
It’s been a long journey to get this club going, but Huesman and Francis are confident everything will work out.
“This has grown bigger and faster than we ever thought or planned, so logistics have been a little hard, but we just tell people it’s a work in progress and to bear with us as we get started,” Hues-man said.
Any current UD student can join this club as long as they are in good standing with the universi-ty. There will be a fee upon joining the club, but since it is new this semester, there is only a fee for those who choose to take the riding lessons, Francis said.
Although they are just getting started this semester, Francis and Huesman are thinking big and have ambitious goals for the future of the club.
“Hopefully by next semester we have things more set in stone,” Francis said. “After two seme-sters of good standing, we want to convert it into a club team. We’ll also have opportunities for service and leadership. People are already contacting us about service projects.”
“We are considering working with therapeutic riding groups for challenged children as well as rescue groups,” Huesman said. “Nothing definitive yet, but the students will be expected to create service work to fulfill their club obligations.
The club rides at a barn called Wetherbrooke Farm between Bellbrook and Waynesville about thirteen miles from campus, owned and operated by Joy Von Handorf, who is an upper level eventer and an ICP certified trainer.
“I started riding there before the club even started just so I could get the feel of it,” Francis said.
Students who have no transportation carpool there with other students that do have cars.
UD vans would be used if the club will be traveling any long distances, Huesman said.
For more information and for those interested in joining in the fall, contact Victoria Francis through the club email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website udeques-trian.weekly.com.