New Equestrian Club sees immediate success from freshman rider

March 30, 2015

Evan Musick
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Equestrian riders are now able to compete as part of the new Equestrian Club, where riders and high performance horses are put to the test.

Hannah Mientka, senior psychology major, has been competitively riding most of her life and founded the club. When Mientka started college, she sold her horse and fell out of riding. When she returned to UCCS, Mientka and her trainer, coach of the Colorado College Equestrian Team, had the idea to start the club.

Participants compete in several events through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

As part of competing in the IHSA, horses are provided for the riders. Perrin Cunningham, faculty Advisor for the club, believes it’s a good way to get people involved.

“You don’t have to have your own horse,” said Cunningham. “So you know, having a horse is very expensive, and it’s a pain, and you can’t have a horse on campus.”

Certain horses are considered lesson horses. Trainers take those horses and they become the team horses.

For competitions, the names of all the horses are put in a hat and the riders draw a horse they haven’t ridden before.

With random selection, the rider’s ability is tested. Cunningham said that this leads to the process not being about money to buy a horse, but the skill to ride one.

Currently, the club only competes in English Style riding. Member Hunter White feels it is a completely different aspect of riding.

“English is more like the whole jumping aspect of it,” said White, a freshman health science major. “It’s more about engaging the horse.”

Compared to the Western style, White explained the saddle is smaller and the riding clothes are different.

On February 27 and 28, the club competed against several schools, including CU-Boulder, Colorado College, the University of Nebraska and the Air Force Academy. The event was held at UCCS’ home barn MM Ranch in Fountain and resulted in White moving on to Zones, the next level of competition.

Mientka noted that White’s accomplishment was a significant achievement.

“It takes some people two or three years to qualify for Zones, and it took Hunter one year,” she said.

For White, riding competitively in her first year at UCCS is no shock. She has had a passion for riding since a young age.

“I’ve pretty much grown up with it my whole entire life,” she said. “Both my parents did it and it’s just become this very big passion of mine.”

Currently, the club has 15 members and is looking to expand.

“My hope is for more people to be drawn to our school because of it, because like Boulder, their school is really big and [equestrian riding] is a varsity sport,” said Mientka. “I want people to be interested in our school because of that because I think we have a really strong team right now.”