Equestrians seek new members, club status
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United by a common horse showing interest, but not yet an official club, the Lake Land College Equestrians hope to move into the spotlight and gain official team status.
The group is still in its early stages, coming together in January 2018. They are not recognized as an official Lake Land team, but rather a group of independent students showing horses in the college’s name. Current team members are Morgan Walker, Jessica Winter, Talena Zacha, Tera Hall, Anna deBuhr, and Jesse Robinson. They are led by EIU equestrian coach and Reinin’ Lane Ranch owner Kandi Lane, who pushed to form the club along with Ag Division Chair Ryan Orrick.
“The coach, Kandi Lane, was trying to get Lake Land to start a team for a while, and they weren’t sure about it. They kept saying ‘maybe not now, not now,'” Morgan Walker said. “Ryan Orrick, the Ag chair, had been working with her. He had been taking field trips down there with some of his animal science classes. Finally they got together and got it started.”
The team is currently enrolled in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), though their distance from the region means they must travel for competitions.
“Our region is mostly in Indiana. We’re kind of on the outskirts of the region,” Walker said.
But, so far, the team hasn’t been able to compete as their first show got cancelled because of the winter weather and timing of the season.
“Most of [the competitions] started in the fall. We didn’t start until January, because we we weren’t able to get the ball rolling,” Jessica Winter said. “We’re starting a little late. Next year will be our first full season.”
But, the team has high hopes for next year, not only to succeed in competitions, but to gain recognition as a group.
“[I hope] to make it known that Lake Land has started a team, and to make it grow. We are starting with a small group,” Winter said.
Walker agreed that she wants “to be a team, to be visible.” Part of this visibility does come from the shows they’ll have, one of which will be closer to home next year.
“Next year, we were going to host a show in Illinois though, up by Champaign,” Tera Hall said.
Ultimately, the team hopes for official college recognition.
“We’re hoping that if it takes off, maybe a couple of years in the future, we’ll possibly have an equine club,” Walker said. “And, there’s so many hoops you have to jump through. We want to get that set up for the next group.”
Winter echoed her sentiment that the group is willing to work through bumps to become official.
“There’s a lot of marketing hoops to jump through, just to become a team. We’re really not even a team yet, so we’d really like for that to happen,” Winter said.
Each of the girls came to the club from different backgrounds, which just goes to show that anyone could find a place with the Lake Land College Equestrians. Walker said this is her return to working with horses.
“I started riding when I was younger. I had a really bad accident and sort of lost my confidence on horses,” Walker said. “So, this me trying to regain my confidence and trying to start over.”
Hall came to the club because she grew up around horses.
“I’ve been riding horses since before I could walk. I’ve ridden all kinds of different horses, and I thought this would be easy,” Hall said. “I’ve shown a lot of different horses, so that’s what drew me to this.”
Winter also has show experience, and this club is a way for her to stay active in that hobby.
“I have a show background, but whenever I got to college, it was harder to travel and go to shows, so doing something like this made it easier. I don’t get to go to a lot of quarter horse shows any more, because I’m in school,” Winter said.
Telena Zacha has plenty of horse experience, but is using showing to expand her horizons.
“I’ve got a horse background of trail riding, so I wanted to add to it and learn more. I’ve worked on a lot of horse farms in different states,” Zacha said.
No experience is necessary to join the club, but members must be full-time students to participate. It’s also important to note that this group is open to anyone.
“I think it’s important for the students to know you can be female or male. Right now, we’re all female, but it’s important to know that boys can join too,” Winter said.
Interested students can contact Ag Chair Ryan Orrick.