Team doesn’t just horse around

By Seth Endres

If country singers Big and Rich saw NIU’s Intercollegiate Equestrian Team, the lyrics to the song “Save a Horse,” may have gone more along the lines of, “ride a horse, practice safe sex.”

“You know we’re not just about riding horses all the time,” said Malory Murray, senior biological sciences major, who is also the president of NIU’s Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. “We also do a service project in the spring; we do it with men’s and women’s lacrosse club. We spend an afternoon in King Memorial Commons and we hand out free condoms, lube and safer sex information. We have a promotional safer sex meeting. Last year we had a lot of fun; someone dressed up as a giant sperm, there were penis balloons. It was fun, and definitely a good time. It’s one of the things we do to help focus on the NIU community.”

In being the president of NIU’s Intercollegiate Equestrian Team, Murray has several duties. She does most of the paperwork, handles all the insurance releases and mini-biographies of each member and helps watch the group when the coach is helping others. Murray’s goal is to help improve the abilities of the riders, while still making it fun.

Students started the club in the early 1990s, but it began to trail off as time went on.

“It really came back in around 2002,” Murray said.

The club has about 50 members and is heavily female.

“We never understood why we didn’t have more guys join. We have about 50 to 60 girl members,” said Kristen Kechik, a senior textiles, apparel and merchandise major and vice president of the club.

Even though the club is about riding horses, members don’t need to compete in shows or have experience to join.

“Right now, we have 25 competing members that actually compete in the intercollegiate circuit, which is the nation’s equestrian circuit that we compete against colleges all over the nation,” Murray said. “Then we have general members that are more interested in riding and not necessarily competing.”

While the team likes to have fun, the members are serious when they perform at shows.

“It can be intimidating at competitions because the host schools provide the horses,” Murray said. “Most of the time you’ve never ridden this horse, or never seen this horse. You don’t know anything about it except what they tell you about it on a little sheet of paper, which is about five words or less. You don’t get to have any practice with the horse; you don’t get a chance to school it. It’s definitely a test of your horsemanship, and your ability to adapt to the horse.”

The club has organized different events to help reduce stress of the members for the shows,

“We have a bowling party this semester. We just had a fashion show on Sunday and all the new members came with all their show clothes and we were critiquing them,” Kechik said. “We wanted to make sure they could dress to impress at the show.”

There is a $40 membership fee for the Equestrian team. Lessons are $20 and take place Fridays. There are some equipment requirements, but no experience is necessary.