GREENVILLE, Pa.—During spring 2012, Thiel College launched the Thiel Equestrian Club, a student organization that introduces or extends basic horseback riding, horse handling and horse care skills and knowledge.
The club, which accepts beginner, intermediate and advanced student riders, was an immediate success, with 14 students participating during the first semester.
“There was a lot of interest among Thiel students for an opportunity to learn or continue with horseback riding during the academic year,” said Mike McKinney, Dean of Students at Thiel College. “We were happy to find great coaches in the area who could help us form this club and make it a successful addition to our students’ collegiate experience.”
Participants in the club can learn Western or English riding disciplines or rotate them each week during lessons. The riding club program lasts 10 weeks per semester, giving students 15 lessons each semester. Each lesson is limited to no more than five riders and is 45 minutes long, and is preceded and followed by time to groom, tack and cool down the horses.
The club advisers are Jenna Malnar and Lorna Nagel. Malnar has ridden horses for much of her life, trained them since 1999 and taught equestrian skills since 2006. She currently teaches at Commodore Perry Elementary School as part of the Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps program. She lives in Greenville, Pa. Nagel has 29 years of experience teaching and training equine services. Along with her involvement with the Thiel Equestrian Club, she also is the region president for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (ISHA). She also lives in Greenville.
“Many students enjoy riding at home and truly miss spending time with horses,” said Coach Nagel. “We provide the opportunity for them to continue their passion in riding while away from home at College.”
Lessons occur on a farm about 20 minutes away from campus in Sheakleyville, Pa. Students do not need to have a horse to participate, as the farm provides horses and tack. However, boarding is available and can be arranged for students who would like to bring their own horses with them. Students are only required to have a safe pair of riding boots and appropriate attire for the style of riding they choose.
The Thiel Equestrian Club has membership in IHSA, which provides collegiate riders of all skills the opportunity to compete individually and as a team in equestrian competition. IHSA competitions provide horses to riders by draw, allowing students to participate regardless of financial status and allowing them to be judged by their ability as a rider and not the performance of the horse.
“Most horse shows are strictly individual competitions with your horse, but in IHSA, we compete as a team,” said Coach Nagel. “Members support each other, helping each other out, rather than fostering an ‘everyone for himself’ atmosphere.”
Currently, participation in the Thiel Equestrian Club is limited to 20 students and sign-up for participation in the fall begins in August. Interested students should contact the Thiel Student Life Office at 724-589-2125 or email@example.com.
"My personal goal is for everyone to have fun while learning,” added Coach Malnar. “We want students to leave [the program] comfortable working around horses and riding and know how to keep themselves and others safe around horses. Learning to ride is a challenging and rewarding experience!”
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