A short drive down Rt. 336, then a left on County Road 650 and we arrived in “horse country.”
It was a beautiful October day … the sun was shining, a cool fall breeze was in the air … it was a perfect day for the WIU Equestrian Club’s “Equestrian Experience,” an annual event sponsored by the WIU club to introduce the Western and surrounding local communities to the sport and to raise awareness for their club. Kayla Venhuizen, president of Western’s Equestrian Club and agriculture major from Morrison, met us and escorted us to the barn to begin our experience. After meeting other club members, my 13-year-old son was ready to start riding. And I even heard myself ask if I could ride (even though it had been 13 years since I took my last horseback ride)!
From the line of half a dozen horses, Club Fundraising Chair Amanda Post, psychology major from Wonder Lake, chose Buddy, a brown horse with white blaze and stockings for William, and a pinto, Ben, for me. We slowly made our way around the indoor arena, getting a feel for our Equine pals, and learning the very basics of riding. During the experience, we also learned the ABCs of caring for a horse.
Club members are students from a variety of majors, but they have one thing in common: a love for horses. Some of the members have been riding since they were four years old, while others are new to the hobby/sport. And a few intend to combine this hobby with a career. Sydney Musgrave, pre-social work major from Naperville plans a career in horse therapy, helping trauma victims and special needs children. Kevin Zerbe, a law enforcement and justice administration major from Des Plaines, plans on becoming a mounted police officer.
During the school year, the WIU Equestrian Club takes part in approximately six English and Western competitions. Riders (and even non-riders who want to learn) are welcome to join the club. Members don’t need to have their own horse, they don’t need to have riding experience and they do not have to participate in the competitions. The Equestrian Club practices at Walt Dorethy’s horse farm near Colchester on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, while meetings are held on campus at 5 p.m. on Mondays in Knoblauch Hall Room 307.
For more information about the club, visit facebook.com/WIUEquestrianClub.