Equestrian Club to host only home show

By James Cantagallo

It’s not every day the Equestrian Club gets to ride in front of its family and friends, but this weekend will be its time to shine.

The Huskies will host their one home show of the year at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Foxcreek Stable in Wauconda.

“It is a lot of fun to host,” said club co-president Laura Stremke. “It’s a lot of work, but it pays off. It is nice because it is a little closer to home, so we can have more of our family and friends come out to watch and participate.”

Even with all the hard work that is necessary to host a home show, NIU is looking for a strong performance.

“We are looking forward to having home court advantage,” said head coach Joleen Dewitt. “… I am hoping we win. We haven’t been champion yet this semester, so we are hoping the team can ride well and bring home a champion ribbon this weekend.

“Also, we’ve got several students that are close to qualifying for the postseason in the spring, so they need some more points and I am hoping they get them this weekend to qualify for regionals.”

While the team has enjoyed success in the past, this year is considered a rebuilding year.

“We lost a lot of our senior members last year,” said assistant coach Erin Sutherland said. “So, we are grooming a new group of students. We have some new members who are seasoned riders, but because the [Intercollegiate Horse Show Association] is so different from normal shows it is still new to them. They are rising to the challenge, and we have seen great improvement already from the first and second competitions of the season.”

In the first show of the year, at Southern Illinois University, NIU was reserve champion day one and took third place day two. In the second show of the year at Truman State University, the Huskies took third place both days.

While the club is separated into two groups, all members participate in some way.

“We have a recreational team where we do a lot of social events,” Stremke said. “We go out and try to support other clubs. We go to basketball, football and hockey games, stuff like that. Then we have the competitive part of the team where we do shows against other universities.”

Last year the Equestrian Club was Campus Recreation’s “Sport Club of the Year.”

“The Equestrian Club is about teaching students proper horsemanship,” Sutherland said. “It’s a great way for those who enjoy equestrian sports to do something as a team.

“When you compete at normal shows it’s an individual thing with just you and your horse. But the [Intercollegiate Horse Show Association] allows riders to compete as a team. We win together and lose together.”

The club is open to any student who has an interest in equestrian horse riding, whether a novice or seasoned veteran.

“We have gentlemen on the team and ladies,” Dewitt said. “We compete equally. You can be a beginner that has hardly ever ridden, with no lessons and previous experience, to someone that is a very experienced show rider, so we have a wide range. It is a pretty diverse club in terms of abilities.”

Last year the Huskies were the 2012-2013 IHSA Hunt-Seat Regional Champions. In addition to last year’s regional championship, the team was regional champions three years in a row from 2007-2009.