BU club reduces stress with the help of horses

Anne Berg, Features Editor

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     Bloomsburg University is home to a vast amount of clubs and sports, so many that most of them are unknown to the rest of the campus. These are the clubs/ teams that are absolutely unique and beloved by all members, current and alumni, the hidden gems of Bloomsburg’s campus. One of these hidden gems is Bloomsburg University’s Equestrian Team, otherwise known as BUET. So what is BUET exactly? It’s a team for everyone who loves riding, horses, or wants to learn to ride. It’s a club for everyone! Grace Schmitt, a senior at Bloomsburg and the president of BUET is proud of the opportunities that the team provides to riders of all experience levels. She says, “It’s so awesome that we have so many members who’ve been riding all their lives and some who just started learning through the team”.

     BUET has two types of members, Showing and Associate. Showing members ride at least once every week and they compete in shows on weekends with other college teams. Associate members ride at least once every two weeks, but can ride more than that if they please. They do not show but can attend shows to help out, watch, or just enjoy the team spirit. Both Showing and Associate members can have any level of experience, from complete beginner, to expert. And if you start out as an Associate member you can always decide to become a Showing member and vice versa. There is both an English and Western team, and once again you can choose to do one or both.

     Members take lessons with Amie Wolfinger at her barn just ten minutes from campus. Rides are arranged for those without their own cars. Lessons consist of roughly two hours of time spent at the barn. This accounts for a half an hour before the lesson starts to get both you and the horse ready for the lesson, an hour of riding time during your lesson, and then time after to cool down the horse and take care of them before you return them to their stalls. Each lesson consists of a group of members with similar riding skills. Each member rides different horses from lesson to lesson, based on whom Amie believes will be a good fit.  

     Riding a new horse from week to week does wonders for improving your riding skills, but it also allows you to get to know all of the horses in the barn. Even though you only spend roughly two hours with a new horse, you really know them on some level by the end of your lesson. You may not know all of their quirks but you get to know a lot of them. Preparing your horse for your lesson before it begins really gives you time to bond with the horse, one on one, on the ground. They are all very lovable creatures and they enjoy being petted and given treats. The lessons themselves are when you really get to know these new creatures. You have to learn how to ride differently for each horse so that you are both working together the best that you can.

     As college students, therapy is sometimes necessary to get through each week. And what is the best form of therapy? Pet therapy. This normally means petting puppies in the library once a semester. But what if it meant taking care of and riding a horse once every week? Even though horses are a lot bigger than puppies they are just as lovable and capable of reducing stress. Taking time to take care of an animal is a great way to forget about your own school related worries. Just like with petting puppies, grooming horses immediately brightens your day and improves your mood. And you get to do it for an entire hour.

     And then there is the riding portion of the lesson. Riding demands a focus that other things do not. You can’t be thinking about next week’s exam or the paper that’s due tomorrow when you are on a 1000-pound animal. You are going to be placing all of your focus on the way that you are interacting with the horse. You need to think about ways that you can improve the way that both you and the horse are moving with one another in order to get the best ride. And at the end you are always left feeling accomplished and high on endorphins. Just like with any other form of exercise, you always feel better afterwards. There’s no such thing as a bad workout. And there is no such thing as a bad ride. Toni-Lyn Sorger, a senior on the Equestrian Team, says that riding is “the most relaxing part of my week”.

 
     The horse and riding bond created through the BUET is an amazing benefit of being a part of the team, but it is not the only bond that’s created. When asked what her favorite part about being on BUET was, Camille Sierka, a junior at BU, says “The awesome friendships I’ve made and being able to continue riding in college”. Aleah Shook, a freshman, says, “Sharing my favorite sport with such a great team and the memories I’ve made with everyone”. The team itself is a great way to make new friends, participate in fun activities, and become involved in campus. BUET meets every Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. in Centennial Hall, room 170. Meetings are normally pretty quick but they normally go over coming events and shows so they are important to go to. And sometimes they turn into Half-priced apps at Applebee’s with the team.

     Besides attending meetings, lessons, and shows, the team participates in so many events around campus and town, for both community service and fun. In the fall the team takes trips to Rohrbach’s Farm for hayrides and the pumpkin patch. In the winter they have a winter retreat with snow tubing and laser tag. In the spring they participate in Relay for Life. When asked what she missed the most about the team, former member Toni Hogan said, “team bonding and the hosted show, that’s where I met the most people”. There are also many team bonding nights dispersed throughout both semesters. And then coming up this weekend is a Bingo Fundraiser for the team!

     Sunday, March 4th, participate in a $100 gift card bingo fundraiser for BUET. For twenty dollars you can purchase twenty games with $100 gift cards as a prize for each game! Bingo takes place at the Bloomsburg Fire Hall, located on 911 Market Street in Bloomsburg. Doors open at noon and Bingo starts at 2 p.m. Special games, 50/50, rip offs, raffles, food, and a lottery tree will be available on the day of bingo! Each seat must have a ticket due to limited seating and tickets will be sold at the door, or by members of the team. So come on down to Bingo and get to know the Equestrian Team and maybe even win some prizes!