By Karina Sprague, Staff Writer
Students from the University of Maine at Farmington now have a chance to ride horses and compete around the state as part of the Dressage Team, a new club at UMF that began last year. Ali Perkins, president of the UMF Dressage club said “Dressage is form of horseback riding in which both rider and horse work together as a team to form patterns. Each horse/rider team is judged based on how they work together, as well as, how accurate the patterns are.”
The club began last year when a group of horse enthusiasts wanted an opportunity to ride and represent the university. The group started with only a handful of members last year and have grown to become a team of 13 riders. The club competes at dressage shows around the state against other Universities. The most common competitor for UMF is the University of Maine at Orono.
The club holds practices twice a week and try to attend at least three shows a semester. Practices are held on Wednesdays and Sundays, and riders are allowed to choose which lesson to attend. Due to a limited budget of just under $2,000, club members have to carpool to practice and pay for half of their lessons, usually costing $20 a lesson. The club members take a University van to shows, and the club funds pay for show fees.
The club practices at Pure Country Stables in Mount Vernon under the instruction of Janet McIver, the owner of the stable. The covered, well lit indoor arena allows club members to practice even in the cold snowy months. Perkins said McIver is willing to work with any ability level, and they encourage beginner riders to join the club. There is no experience required to become a club member, and the variety of ability levels benefits the club at shows as they are able to compete in a larger spectrum of classes.
The club members volunteer at local stables and they are planning a Halloween horse show at a local stable to raise money for the club. Practices have already started for the year, but Perkins encourages anyone to join at any time.