CORRECTION: Rachel Carden's last name has been corrected.
Eastern Kentucky University's Equestrian Team is one of the many clubs that have become active again this past semester after many years of inactivity. Rachel Carden, a senior occupational science major, joined the club in 2018.
The Equestrian Team originally began in 2014, but many of its members went on to graduate with very few new members taking their place. When Carden joined her freshman year, there were only two other senior members, and after they graduated, she was the only remaining member.
“I’ve been trying to start it up ever since I was a freshman but it never took off like it has now. I was the only one on it for at least a year,” said Carden.
The club became inactive until its revival in 2020, with Carden campaigning for new members on Engage and Instagram. Now with 22 members, the club can begin competing with equestrian teams from around the state.
The Equestrian Team meets regularly at Branan Stables in Midway to practice. Branan Stables is a teaching stable, meaning that members of the club do not need to own a horse to participate. Members must pay a flat fee for riding at the stables, and for their scheduled team practices.
The team competes in 2-3 competitions during the fall season and 3-4 in spring. The competitions are usually hosted by other colleges around the state, such as the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Midway College, Morehead State University, and others.
When competing, the hosting school is responsible for supplying the horses used, with teams being randomly assigned a horse for the day. The competitions judge each individual rider on horsemanship, the general control of the horse and the style of riding. Each individual rider is placed in a division according to their level of experience, and then the team as a whole is judged based on accumulated points. There’s also a national tournament held in the spring.
“We haven’t gotten to go to it yet, but we’re trying to make it this year,” said Carden.
Though many members of the team are new, most having joined this semester, Carden still hopes to compete in two tournaments this semester and make it to nationals.
Many team members joined in the past semester after seeing the organization on social media or school websites.
“I always wanted to ride but it was never an option to do so. When I came to EKU, I was offered a team that even beginners could join,” said Lainey Noles, a senior wildlife management major from Nicholasville, Kentucky.
For many team members, the chance to interact with the horses helps them to relax and practice their riding skills while getting involved.
“Being able to gather with a group of friends and ride every week is a great way to destress and step away from the bustle of campus for a bit,” said Mae Hammond, a senior animal science major from Winchester, Kentucky.
The Equestrian Team will compete at a tournament hosted by UK later this semester.
To learn more about the Equestrian Team, find them on the Corq app.