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Each fortnight, SCAN brings you an exclusive inside peek at one of our fantastic sports clubs. Read about what they get up to, and get the latest on how they are representing Lancaster in competitive sport around the country.
This issue, SCAN spoke to captain David Lovell, to find out all about the Equestrian Club.
When asked what makes equestrian club the best on campus, David stated a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of only a handful of off campus sports teams. Secondly, David states that it is the members, and the variety, which contribute to the real uniqueness of the society. In terms of variety, the training sessions change each week in order to develop everyones skills and gradually make all members better riders. David states that it’s common to go from practising precise dressage movements to racing ponies through poles as fast possible. It is unlikely that many other societies have such varied training sessions.
In terms of club structure, one area is the equestrian team, made up of 10 memebers who train every week at the Eccleston Equestrian Centre. This area of the club compete in BUCS competitions, as well as at a recently established Development Team League. Aside to this, there are recreational lessons for those members who may not want to compete in these events. These lessons take place at Beaumont Grange Equestrian Centre. During these training sessions, members tend to swap horses to get each other used to riding different horses. David states the main aim of training is to be improve at both dressage and show-jumping. David feels this is what makes all members grow so close and strike up such great friendships with each other and of course with the horses!
For the recreational members, there is also an opportunity to compete at friendly inter-club competitions, the next being a jumping competition in Week 17. Before the end of term pony racing and mounted games are lined up, and these will provide great experience for those who want to continue to ride without the pressure of competitions.
As well as these membership types, there are also social members, who are students who want to be a part of the club and want to mix with like-minded people, however don’t want to go riding every week. David states it is these levels of membership which make the club so unique and welcoming.
In terms of last year’s success, one of the biggest success was having two team members qualify for the BUCS regional round as individuals for the second year running. One of these individuals even progressed onto BUCS Nationals and competed at Bishop Burton!
David states that the club ‘smashed’ Roses last year. The A team came 1st and the B team finished 3rd, which earned Lancaster 6 points, and these were actually the points which took Lancaster into the lead!
Roses this year may be a different story however, as home advantage is magnified; York will be competing on the horses they ride and train on every week, whereas Lancaster will see their horses for the first time on the day. However, David does state that training is going well so there’s no reason why York won’t be given a run for their money.
The success has been rather mixed this year, the B team claimed team 1st and individual 1st and 3rd at the home competition. The A team have also had a couple of individual placings at each competition, and the development team have attended one competition but came out with a team 1st and individual 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th, showing success filters through to all levels of the club. The fun doesn’t stop here, as all levels of the club have many competitions lined up throughout the remainder of the year, including the home competition for the development team.
When asked whether any promising new members have joined this year, David was quick to state that one new member finished individually 3rd in the B team home competition! David states that many members have also joined the recreational lessons and these are gradually becoming more confident with every passing lesson. Overall, David, and the club coach Kayleigh, have been extremely impressed with the progress made by every single member this year. In fact, they are so impressed with the development team that the hope is for them to compete in affiliated BUCS competitions in the future.
When asked about the teams strengths, David states that the main strength is the diversity of skills. Most of the riders have competed in a range of equestrian activities prior to and outside of university, meaning that the club can compete in all sorts of competitions. This is the key to success, because when riding unfamiliar horses you need to be prepared to change your style to suit that particular animal.
A key challenge the club faces is getting the new members familiar to the unique format of BUCS competitions. It usually takes team members at least a year to get used to the unfamiliar format of competition. This is why the development team is so exciting, many of these members will have had experience in these events when they join the team!
Away from training, David believes the socials are one of the strengths of the club. These are held weekly and this makes a very close-knit family! Each week there is a different theme to the night with some of the most popular ones including pub show jumping and even cocktail bingo! Of course there is also regularly non-drinking options to include all members.
In addition to these, there are also socials revolved around horses. One of the most popular socials is the termly beach rides in the Lake District and there are plans for the trip to Badminton Horse Trials to become a yearly event.
When asked which members in particular are impressive, David stated that the development team, Ina Solem, Ellie Borgman, Bara Mala and Sophie Finlinson excelled in their first competition, winning the team competition! David also sings high praise about the B team captain Tom, stating that he can always be relied upon to be in charge for away fixtures and for providing advice to new members.
David is incredibly proud to be captain, stating that the he admires the attitude of all members. This attitude is epitomised whenever a member falls, which luckily isn’t very often, however, should it happen, the individuals just dust themselves down and get back on with it. David states that when the team host home competitions, everyone helps out to make the day run smoothly and according to plan, showing the closeness of the group! David adds that unfortunately, the horses aren’t always as co-operative!
On an individual level, David’s standout moment as part of the team is when it was announced that he’d got to nationals last year. He remembers receiving massive support from everyone connected to the club, and even his mum began welling up!
On a team level, David’s standout moment is meeting such amazing friends throughout his time in LUEC, stating that memebers stay friends for life. David also says his most proud moment as captain was breaking the news that Lancaster’s B team had finished 1st at their home competition!
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