Augustana students saddled up at Camp Leif Erikson last Saturday as a part of the new horseback riding event offered by the Augustana Outdoor Program.
The initial sign-up for the event had one session holding ten slots. As interest in the opportunity grew, it was quickly expanded to two sessions.
The event is entirely new. “This is the first time we offered horseback riding, as we are trying to expand what we do with the Outdoor Program to get more people involved,” David Schulz said, who is serving his second year as Outdoor Program director. “South Dakota is very rural, so we thought horseback riding would be a nice way to get more people into the program.”
According to Schulz, the idea to go horseback riding came from a student who offered feedback and suggestions for the program last year. Schulz liked the idea and made arrangements for Augie students to travel to Camp Leif Erikson to learn how to ride.
Schulz is already planning the next opportunity for riding in the spring.
He enjoyed how successful the event was and would like to take the students riding at new places in the future.
“One thing that I am interested in, too, is horseback riding in the Black Hills, trail riding,” Schulz said. “I think it would be an awesome activity.”
Geena Black, a sophomore who owns three of her own horses, likes the idea of trail riding in the Black Hills.
“I think it would be amazing to have a spring break trip and do a two-day trail ride,” Black said. “Just something longer since that is what I’m used to going through and going on.”
“For five dollars to get through this event, you get to ride a horse for an hour. It’s a lot to saddle up these animals and get them all ready to go,” Black said.
Five dollars seemed to be worth it to some of the other participants. “I feel like five dollars is super cheap, I would have paid $25 or $30 honestly, but like the fact they work with college students and are willing to do it for five bucks is a really good deal,” sophomore Jenae Phelps said.
Jenae has ridden horses before and felt it was a good opportunity to ride when away from home.
She believes that horseback riding is a good experience for students at Augustana.
“It gets them more familiar with things that I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t. You know a lot of students from Augie aren’t from South Dakota, so they’ve never been on a horse or some of them have never seen a horse,” Phelps said. “So I feel like it’s a great opportunity to try it out. There’s no contract, they don’t have to pay a ton of money, it’s five bucks. Get on a horse, see how you like it. If you don’t like it, great, but if you do, maybe you can get more into it.”
Both Black and Phelps think it would be a great idea if Augustana could set up a volunteering or job opportunity at a local stable.
“I volunteered down in Kansas City for a therapeutic riding center and it is a lot of work to get trained and authorized to do that kind of stuff. So, if Augie were able to link us to opportunities like that, it would be amazing,” Black said.
The information for the horseback riding opportunity was published in the Elmen Center calendar and on Viking Central. Schulz thinks it is important for students to check out these opportunities and try to be a part of them if they can.
“Be a part of AOP,” Schulz said. “Students are so busy in their books, and they have to be, but I think getting outdoors, even if it is just a hike or a state park, is good for them.”