By Courtney Steiner
As an incoming freshman, I knew that I wanted to pursue my career as a horseback rider. All throughout high school I had competed in horse shows in southern California. When I came to Union, it surprised me that there was no Union Equestrian Club or Team.
The benefit to attending a small liberal arts college such as Union is the ability to create organizations or clubs as students.
My parents encouraged me to ask around and see if other students at the school felt the same way I did.
Sure enough, I came into contact with two other girls who had the same passion for horseback riding as I did.
In the beginning of our sophomore year, Grace Carroll, Rachel Feldman and I worked on building Union’s first Equestrian Club. We are very excited to have finally accomplished our goal and establish the Equestrian Club here at Union.
This past weekend we competed in our first Intercollegiate Horse Show at Skidmore College. Several members of the club, including MacKenzie Westfall ‘14, Grace Carroll ‘12, Julie Russell ’11, and myself competed in the show.
Carroll received a third place ribbon over fences and a first on the flat in the Intermediate division. I received a third place ribbon on the Intermediate flat. Westfall received a third place in the Novice on the flat.
Schools competing in the Feb. 19 competition included Colgate, Siena, Morrisville, U. Albany and Hartwick College.
Coach Liz Kozakiewicz believes that “although the Equestrian Team at Union College is new, they are already making an impression with the IHSA. This past Saturday all of the team members were competitive in their respective classes.”
Kozakiewicz goes on: “The support and comradery among the girls, however, was what impressed me the most. Every time a member exited the ring the rest of the team was there to congratulate them. I am proud to be a part of this growing team and hope to coach more students with even half of the dedication that these girls have.”
The club attracts freshmen through senior students, including club member Julie Russell, a senior, who states: “I had hoped Union would offer an equestrian team since my freshman year. Even though it is my last year here, I am so happy to be part of the debut of our team.”
The Equestrian Club has fortunately received a lot of support from the staff and faculty at Union college. Associate Professor and Director of Asian Studies Jennifer Matsue and Dean of Engineering Cherrice Traver have been a huge help and enthusiastic faculty representatives for the club.
Matsue is extremely proud of the work the students have done to bring this club to life. “Since I first arrived at Union College in 2003, I felt the college would benefit tremendously from having an Equestrian Club. The capital region is actually one of the most active areas for equine-related activities and institutions. Our students can now actively connect with this important industry through lessons, competition, and service work with area horse rescue leagues.”
Matsue goes on: “Many of our comparison schools have clubs and varsity teams, which actively recruit students, taking away strong potential applicants from Union College. Equine sports are particularly popular among female students. Thus the club will further attract women to our campus. This club is a welcome addition that should only grow in the future.”
Come support the Union Equestrian Team, competing next on March 5 at Hartwick College.