New mandates have postponed the initiation of a CSUN equestrian team, despite several attempts to convince the sports club advisor otherwise.
“We really want to create a community for people that want to better or begin their skills in horse riding and just have a great time,” hopeful team captain Malin Engstrom said.
Engstrom, 24, hopes her proposed equestrian team will eventually provide the opportunity for CSUN students who wish to compete on a regional and national level.
“Since this is a commuter school, it is hard to meet new people unless you are involved in extracurricular activities,” Engstrom said. “Working with the horses and different people is good because you learn about responsibility and community.”
As of right now CSUN does not have a riding team, but Engstrom and her riding coach, Ali Ahrend, are working to change that.
Universities throughout the country and Canada are currently competing through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).
“The IHSA sets all the rules, pays for all the horses to be shipped in, and sets up the competing events,” said Ali Ahrend, a horse trainer and riding instructor
Engstrom and Ahrend, 34, are working to get CSUN enlisted with the IHSA to compete at the highest levels.
According to the IHSA Web site, “the Association was founded on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows, regardless of … financial status or riding level.”
The proposed team, as envisioned by Engstrom, would be accepting students at beginner and expert levels. If the team were to succeed in winning on a regional level, it would go on to compete in the nationals.
“We take riders at all levels and we have competitions from the beginner levels all the way to the expert level,” Engstrom said, speaking of the IHSA. “That is the beauty of this organization.”
Currently, the proposed team faces several drawbacks, chief among them the mandates that will postpone the team’s initiation. The California State University Chancellor recently developed an 84-page CSU Sports Club Model that its member campuses are required to abide by.
“We love sports clubs, but we have to make it consistent with the chancellor’s manual,” said Michelle Messiha, assistant director of the Associated Students’ Recreation Sports department. Messiha stressed that the university is eager to assist with the development of new sports clubs and adhere to their requests, but it cannot do this safely without first reorganizing to meet the Sports Club Model’s requirements.
In an e-mail from Luke Chaney, Sport Club Coordinator for CSU, Engstrom was advised that due to mandates from the Chancellor’s office, the university has decided not to accept any new sports clubs this year.
“All that is necessary from the university is their approval and a yearly membership fee of $150.00 for the ISHA,” Ahrend said. Still, Engstrom and Ahrend will have to postpone their proposal for the time being.
As a result, they have set a new target date for the new club’s start-up: next year.
“The club will need five members … and there are already two members,” said Engstrom, who is seeking to gain more student interest to build the team. “We don’t want to discourage anyone. Any level can join.”
If they get the go-ahead in 2010, Engstrom and Ahrend would be training in dressage, which is groundwork and moving up to fence jumping. “This is an extremely expensive sport and joining the team … that will make it affordable for students,” Ahrend said.
Students would receive approximately a couple riding instructions a week, with instructions scheduled at different times based on availability. The horses and gear would be provided and the only cost to the student would be the instruction package. All events and additional costs would be funded through fundraisers.
After preparing for competitions, the students would be traveling to events to compete on a regional level.
Engstrom welcomes e-mail from interested students who wish to get more information on joining equestrian team—whose initiation she hopes will be forthcoming in 2010. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.