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RSCC equestrian team ponies up

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RSCC equestrian team ponies up

By Katie Hogin

Roane State Community College’s Equestrian Club is gearing up to make a name for itself.

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While the club welcomes skilled, long-term horse riders, the team also encourages newcomers wanting to learn the tricks of the trade.

Seeing her friends perform on the Middle Tennessee State University Equestrian Team, Roane State student Katie Wigginton decided Roane State needed their own.

After a few months of petitioning, working with the Student Government Association and paperwork, her idea came to fruition in November.

“Since the facilities were already there, why not Roane State?” she said.

Wigginton has ridden since was in fourth grade and got started through 4-H.

“I enjoy the companionship you have with you and the horse,” she said. “It’s always a challenge. You can never perfect it. There’s always something new.”

Currently, there are only three girls on the team, and another student from the Oak Ridge campus has just recently taken interest.

Shannon Hankins, who studies education, attended the team’s recent meeting at the Roane State Expo Center. She heard about the group when Wigginton’s mom, Mary, sold poinsettias for the team on campus.

“That made me really interested,” she said.

That’s because Wigginton also hopes to involve the team in volunteering at therapeutic academies such as STAR Physical Therapy or working with Horse Haven.

Every Friday, the team tries to meet at coach Steve Fowler’s barn on Mays Valley Road in Harriman.

Wigginton first met Fowler when she bought her American quarter horse, Hershey, nearly five years ago.
Fowler boards horses and currently has six residing in his barn.

“You may have some kids that’s never been around horses, that just want to try it,” Fowler said. “So that gives them an opportunity to be able to do it without having to own a horse.

During shows, competitors draw horses’ names at random from a hat then ride them without any preparation. In order for team members to succeed in shows, practicing on multiple horses proves essential.

“They learn what they can do, what they can’t do and what’s expected,” Fowler said. “Some horses take cues easy. Some horses are going to take cues harder. Some horses may not want to go at all. And so they (the team) have to learn how to handle all of those situations.

“It’s the luck of the draw,” Wigginton added.

“What they have learned is what they have to go on. If they don’t have much experience, there just kind of at a loss,” Fowler noted. “It’s like getting in a car without knowing where all the buttons are.”

Currently, the team has only competed at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Wigginton, her mother, and Fowler, along with another team member were the only ones to go.

“We all enjoyed talking and spending time together and just bonding,” Wigginton said.

Wigginton hopes for the crew to expand while helping each other gain more experience and “develop themselves more as riders.”

“It’ll be whatever they make of it,” Fowler said. “If we get enough participation, it’ll be a good thing. A few is OK too – as long as it’s a good few.”

The Roane State Equestrian Team has upcoming tournaments at MTSU and Tennessee Tech University.

The team welcomes membership from full-time students at any of Roane State’s multiple campuses.