WHS offers new club for equestriansWoodbury High School has begun offering the Minnesota High School Equestrian Association as a club option for students.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
A new club has galloped its way into Woodbury High School.
WHS recently started offering the Minnesota High School Equestrian Association (MHSEA) as a club option for students.
“The club is designed to promote equestrian disciplines as a high school team sport,” said a club adviser Kathy Pliszka. “It’s a club where members can learn from and enjoy the company of other students who are equestrians.”
A ‘team’ sport
The WHS club is part of MHSEA, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote equestrian disciplines as a high school team sport.
The club is unique from other clubs or sports in that there is a combination of members riding different disciplines.
The MHSEA disciplines include dressage, English and western equitation/pleasure, eventing, hunter/jumper, saddle seat and western games.
Members are also able to earn a school letter, much like other high school activities and sports, by meeting several requirements – having a certain number of riding hours, having a certain number of training hours and participating in competitions.
While each member pursues their own riding discipline, the club organizes fun meetings to promote team spirit.
The group attended a rodeo in April and is planning several meetings and fun events for the May through September competition season.
“We try to hold the meetings at members’ barns so the students can see each other with their horses,” Pliszka said. “It’s a great learning experience to see different facilities and what they have to offer.”
Pliszka said members are not required to have a horse, since there are other facets of the club such as photography and drawing competitions.
Another component of the club is that all members are required to rack up a total of eight hours of volunteer service. Pliszka said members volunteer at an equine based activity. Several members volunteer at organizations as Hope Rides, Western Wishes and 4-H.
An equestrian bond
MHSEA lists a host of benefits offered through high school equestrian clubs, including, discipline, commitment, character-building, confidence and teamwork.
For Pliszka, the biggest benefit is that the members understand the sport and the commitment involved.
“It’s such a great support system to have these athletes meeting with other people who understand their sport,” she said. “There’s so much that goes into being a really good equestrian – they’re such dedicated athletes to their sport.”
Pliszka said riding itself has lots of benefits.
“It helps you get in great shape,” she said. “It teaches them a lot of responsibility since they are responsible for taking care of and training their animals.
“In general, it helps them be well rounded individuals.
Pliszka said she hopes the WHS club continues to grow.
“There’s so much behind the scenes dedication and work that makes it look effortless when these riders are in the ring,” she said. “There’s such a bond between these students and their horses – the horses and the riders are a team.”
To find out more about being a member of the Minnesota High School Equestrian Association contact Laura Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org.