October 25, 2011
The UT Equestrian Club has a new competitive team this year, participating in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s events against schools like Florida State University and the University of Florida.
Kendra New ’13, president of UT’s Equestrian Club, said members ride at least twice a month at Far Reach Farm in Lutz under the guidance of team coach Sherri O’Connor.
Marlea Hayes ’14, the club’s vice president, said she is proud to represent UT in an uncommon collegiate sport.
Allie Heinrichs ’15, left, prepares a horse for a practice ride with Hayes at Far Reach Farm, about a 45-minute drive from campus.
Horses relax Kendra New ’13. The sound of their breath, their soft noses, the feel of their coat and the rhythmic gait of a trot or gallop.
“Riding is not a team sport. It’s just you and the horse, which is what is so special,” said New, president of UT’s Equestrian Club. “You form a special bond with a horse.”
But it was all she and the six others could do to remain calm while preparing for the team’s first ever competition. Even though the club is in its third year, its competitive team made its debut at the Oct. 15 Intercollegiate Horseshow Association’s Hunt Seat Horseshow hosted by Florida State University.
“We were nervous, but it was really exciting,” said New, a criminology major, who has been riding horses since she was 5. “We couldn’t have asked for a better first show. We were just happy to be there, and then we ended up all placing. It was awesome.”
There were 230 participants from 14 colleges including the University of Florida, Mercer College and the University of Central Florida. Only the top six in each class are awarded ribbons. Each of UT’s seven competitors, which included New, Michenzi Marzano, Allie Heinrichs, Jessica Booth, Rami Younes, Molly McGill and Brigitte Werelman, took home a ribbon: one first place, two third places, one fourth, one fifth and two sixth place ribbons. Their next competition will be hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design Oct. 29 followed by Georgia Southern on Oct. 30.
The competition was in a classic form of English riding called hunt seat with divisions for jumping, cantering, walking and trotting. Riders are assigned horses by drawing numbers ensuring that no one has the advantage of being familiar with their horse.
“When you get on, you just have to go. You can’t train, you can’t walk around, you just have to go,” said Heinrichs ’15, a business major. “A better rider will be able to respond quicker, but the temperament of the horse makes all the difference in the ride.”
Heinrichs has been riding since she was 6. She started riding Western and then moved to English. What makes her eyes light up when she talks about the sport is the thrill of showing and the competition. She joined the UT Equestrian Club after seeing the club hand out flyers on campus.
“I hope to help other people who just want to learn about horses,” said Heinrichs, a music minor who plays cello in the UT Orchestra. “I also hope to get on other horses, which will make me a better rider in the end.”
Marlea Hayes ’14, the club’s vice president, took riding lessons for one year as a kid, but it conflicted with the schedules of all the other sports teams she was on, so she reluctantly gave it up.
“It’s challenging getting back into it,” said Hayes, a pre-law major. “Since I have been doing team sports all my life, this truly is an individual sport. You have to go out without your team members behind you.”
The club meets weekly on varying days and rides at least twice a month on California Dreamin’ (Callie for short) and Lark High Noon (Noon for short) at Far Reach Farm in Lutz under the guidance of team coach Sherri O’Connor. The members do chores on barn days, attend local horse shows, and New said she is working with the Tampa Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit to present to the club.
While some skill is necessary for joining the 12-person competitive team, just an interest in horses is required to join the club, which has more than 20 members. For more information on joining, contact New by
or at (904) 403-0064.
“We have sports like lacrosse, soccer and baseball but a horse sport isn’t a typical college sport,” said New. “I’m so excited to represent UT.”
View photos of the Oct. 15 competition.
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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