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Loyola Junior brings the Equestrian Club back to Loyola

Loyola Junior brings the Equestrian Club back to Loyola

When Olivia Airhart ‘19 began her junior year at Loyola, she felt that something was missing.

Originally from western Pennsylvania, an area that Airhart laughingly described as “having more horses than people,” Airhart grew up surrounded by horses. She began riding horses in kindergarten and eventually began to ride competitively.

When Airhart came to Loyola, she found herself separated from the horse culture she had grown up with. “When I came to college, it was kind of a shock to be in a city without that sort of connection anymore” said Airhart.

Running on Loyola’s track team allowed Airhart to bond with other students, but a series of injuries led to her retirement. Airhart sought to reconnect with her childhood passion: horseback riding.

Airhart discovered that there had once been an Equestrian Club at Loyola, but it is no longer active. “The [former moderator] went on sabbatical, so it’s kind of hard to keep up when there’s no one to supervise your club” explained Airhart.

In response to this discovery, Airhart began her journey to reinvigorate the once-dying club. The first step was to find a new moderator. Airhart reached out to the former Equestrian Club moderator who in turn suggested professors who could serve as moderator. Eventually, Airhart got in touch with Dr. Catriona Hanley, a professor in Loyola’s Philosophy Department.

“I just told her: I want to start riding again and I want to find people on campus that want to,” said Airhart.

Dr. Hanley, an avid horseback rider herself, boards her own horse at a barn called the Graham Equestrian Center, a non-profit organization located in Glen Arm Maryland[1]. Airhart reached out to the center and began to coordinate a partnership between the Graham Equestrian Center and Loyola’s Equestrian Club.

Airhart has arranged for the new Loyola Equestrian Club members to take lessons with the Graham Equestrian Center’s riding horses. The first of these lessons was held on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. Club members will also volunteer at the center and assist in taking care of the horses.

Even though the Equestrian Club has just been re-introduced to the Loyola community this semester, Airhart is already finding that there is a strong interest in the sport amongst the student body.

“There are two or three new people a week that come out of nowhere and say ‘Oh my gosh, I used to ride too. I just heard about your club’” Airhart said. “We have eleven members that are solidly in the club.”

Although most of the current club members have ridden before, the Equestrian Club welcomes members of all skill levels. Among the current members of the Equestrian Club are equine novices who have never ridden, riders who rode throughout elementary and middle school but have fallen out of practice, as well as competitive riders.

“We want everyone to be able to experience [riding]” Airhart said. “We’re trying to foster an environment that’s just really supportive of each other.”

In addition to creating a supportive community of equine lovers, Airhart has had her hands full with the administrative tasks of a new club president. She is the coordinator with Graham Equestrian Center, which involves scheduling lessons, transportation, and volunteering hours for the girclub members. She is also the club treasurer, and acts as the liaison between the Equestrian club and the Office of Student Activities, as she strives to eventually make the Equestrian Club a club sport.

In order to compete in the local competitions sponsored by the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), a team has to be recognized by its university as a club sport.

“Our goal by the end of this semester is to become a club sport,” said Airhart. “A lot of the girls want to compete, even the ones who have never ridden before.”

Airhart’s commitment to the club is not unnoticed by the club members. Megan Korpiel ’21 noted that “[Airhart’s] leadership skills are admirable. She makes sure to ask for feedback and sincerely takes it into consideration when planning events”.

“Our main goal is to just get everyone out there. There’s something about just being around horses,” she said. “There’s a bond that you make [with horses] that you can’t compare with a dog or any other pet”.


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    Rani SMar 29, 2018 at 12:26 am

    nice information, thanks for sharing it..

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Loyola Junior brings the Equestrian Club back to Loyola