Parkland Equestrian Team focuses on fresh season with new coach
A new coach and the election of new officers in Parkland’s Equestrian Club brings high hopes for a successful season, in and out of the ring.
The equestrian club competes as a team in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) with 12 other universities and colleges in the region. They have several members of various experience levels that compete in both English and Western styles.
While the team may practice and hold lessons at their barns of preference, mandatory lessons with coach Meg Tyler are required in the week before a show.
Tyler, who has been working with Parkland for five years as an instructor for Western Horsemanship classes, joins again this year as head coach.
“As the coach, I make myself available for lessons before a show, and also accompany the team to competitions for support,” said Tyler.
Most of the riders don’t own their own horses, but take weekly lessons to enhance their skills. Anyone can join the team and participate in the competitions regardless of previous experience, which makes it possible for all interested members to learn more about horses and gain competitive experience without the cost of owning and maintaining a horse.
Lena Daugherty, a junior in equine management and welding, was recently elected president of the club.
“It’s really fun, but can be stressful at times, trying to organize the logistics of shows and club business,” Daugherty said.
Daugherty is one of the last students in the Equine Management AAS program at Parkland. Due to a lack of student enrollment, the program, which started in 1975, is no longer accepting students.
Faculty advisor Bruce Henrikson said preparations are in effect to terminate the program by the end of this year.
Parkland still continues other animal science courses like nutrition and medicine, but all horsemanship classes will be for non-credit as community education courses.
For students and riders like Daugherty, who have aspirations to open their own equine management facilities someday, it’s a sad loss. But Daugherty still feels that being in the equestrian club brings confidence in achieving that goal.
Competitions are scheduled nearly every weekend and are hosted as far as Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
While anyone can join the equestrian team for free, costs to participate in competitions are paid individually. A portion of Parkland student activity fees help cover a small cost of entry fees, IHSA membership, and transportation, but the club also fundraises for most of the year.
Scholarships are also available through the IHSA for qualified riders. All members are able to apply for scholarship and school support while competing in IHSA shows.
Currently, club members are selling beef sticks and jerky, and plan to organize a “Fall Fun” event with autumn activities and pony rides.