What’s New in Hoofer Riding Club: Fall 2023
By: Hailey Stiles
Welcome to this semester’s Hoofer Riding Club update! We are proud to continue to provide access to equine activities, spread the joy of horses, and educate our community.
A special opportunity with a rare horse
Last year, we wrapped up the semester with “An Afternoon with the Humble Horse.” The Humble Horse is an organization based in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, and is run and operated by Em Loerzel. The organization strives to maintain the Ojibwe pony breed while providing education on the cultural importance of the pony and the story of the Ojibwe people.
We started off the day with an information session from Ojibwe storyteller Darcy Whitecrow, who shared the history of Ojibwe ponies as well as how the rare breed is being preserved using science to prevent its extinction. And then, we had the privilege to meet some of Em’s ponies. The event had a great turnout, and getting to actually meet these ponies after learning so much about them was the coolest!
Starting this academic year
We kicked off the school year with a trail ride for new and returning members at the Woodside Ranch, riding through the beautiful forests of central Wisconsin.
This year, we are thrilled to be collaborating with three separate lesson barns so that we can expand the opportunities for our members and allow them to try new disciplines. Currently, we are operating out of Trident Farms (Hunter/Jumper), Heartland Horseback (Western), and Art of Classical Dressage (Dressage).
“I love getting to meet students from all over the U.S. and abroad, as well as being able to teach them how to ride different horses,” says Nicole Ledvina, owner and trainer at Art of Classical Dressage.
This year, our goal is to strengthen the relationships we have formed in the greater Madison community while facilitating new ones too. We are in the works of facilitating both volunteer and horsemanship education programming with Three Gaits Therapeutic Riding Center, an organization dedicated to providing “equine-assisted activities and therapies that enhance the lives of people with physical, emotional, and/or intellectual challenges.”
Wisconsin Equestrian Team in Kentucky
Last spring, the Wisconsin Equestrian Team had the honor of competing in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Competition at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Bringing a team to the IHSA National Finals for the first time in about eight years was absolutely incredible. Not only were we brought closer together, but we had the opportunity to watch some of the best collegiate riders in the country. We brought eight team riders, one individual rider, and one rider who rode for the Cacchione Cup, which is the highest honor you can receive in the IHSA.
We had seven team riders with honorable mentions and one member who received reserve champion. Our individual rider placed eighth and our Cacchione Cup rider placed 15th out of the top 24 riders in the country! We feel beyond grateful to our donors who supported us in going to nationals, and couldn’t be more excited for what the rest of the season has in store for us.
“Nationals was probably the most incredible experience I’ve had in college,” says Mara Bunderson, Wisconsin Equestrian Team president. “Starting riding only a couple of years ago, I never once imagined that I would have the opportunity to compete at the national level on a collegiate team. Seeing all of the immensely talented riders from across the country was inspiring, and only pushed me to work harder this season. The team is, by far, full of the most supportive, positive, and encouraging people I’ve ever met and the feeling of being with them in Kentucky was indescribable.”
Wisconsin Equestrian Team this fall
This year, the team is training harder than ever to maintain that competitive edge and hopefully make it to Nationals once again.
The team started this school year off with a bang at the first show of the year hosted at Iowa State, competing against other teams from their IHSA region such as Iowa State University, Marquette University, and UW-Milwaukee.
And they are just getting started! The team just wrapped up their local Home Show that took place on Oct. 21 and 22 at the Horse First Farm in Brooklyn, Wisconsin. Along with horses boarded at Sugar Creek Stables, the Equestrian Team’s home base, many generous community members offered their horses to be used in the competition.
Sign up here to get more updates from the Hoofer Riding Club! To learn more about the Hoofer Riding Club, visit www.hooferriding.org. Anyone 18 or older may join the student-led Hoofer Riding Club, as well as the five other outdoor recreation clubs that make up the Wisconsin Hoofers. You can join a Hoofers club by visiting the Outdoor UW office on the lower level of Memorial Union, calling (608) 262-1630, or by making a membership purchase online.