The Kennesaw State equestrian club offers an opportunity for students of all skill levels to learn more about horses in both competitive and non-competitive spaces.
The club is coached by Lucy Molinari, who formed the club in 2009 when approached by a group of interested students. She has been with the team ever since.
Molinari owns the barn Five Star Hunters in Canton, Georgia, where the team has since taken up residence. The barn provides a home for the KSU equestrian club and its riders, as well as offering riding lessons for people ages five and up.
At the college level, Five Star Hunters has become a home-away-from-home for the equestrian club riders.
“Out there is a safe space,” team president Victoria Hagerott said. “If you need something, you just go out there and take a break from the world.”
Five Star Hunters owns many of the horses used in competitions by riders, and also has a few that are owned by private clients. Riders learn how to ride on multiple different horses to ensure a quality understanding of various skills.
“All the horses have something to teach everyone,” Nicole Molinari, daughter of coach Lucy Molinari, said. “You can ride one horse really well and then get on the next one and it’s like you don’t even know how to ride.”
Knowing how to ride different horses is an important skill to have while competing. The Equestrian Club competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which frequently holds competitions at nearby schools such as Berry College, Auburn University, and the University of Georgia.
At these competitions, riders are randomly paired with a horse registered by a competing school. They have no way of knowing beforehand what horse they may get, and only have a short amount of time to learn more about the horse with the little information given to them.
While they may not be able to ride their own horses at competitions, the horses of Five Star Hunters are as much of a part of the KSU equestrian team as the people.
Hagerott’s horse, Roy, is a 25-year-old quarter horse and the “resident old man” of the barn. Roy is used for lessons at the barn, frequently with younger and less-experienced riders.
The barn is also home to many other horses, which the team has been highlighting recently on their social media with Horse of the Week posts. So far, these posts have highlighted 15-year-old Casino, 21-year-old Jackson and 21-year-old Bugs.
“If you watch them out in the pasture they all have their own little friend groups out in the field,” Hagerott said.
For non-competing riders, there is still an opportunity to learn about horse care and management while taking lessons at Five Star Hunters, while also connecting and making friendships with other students interested in horses.