Riding High at SU
Rebecca Wise '13 had ridden a horse only a couple of times before arriving at Susquehanna University. But that didn’t deter the freshman from joining Susquehanna’s Intercollegiate Equestrian Club.
“I’ve always been interested in horses,” Wise says. “I just decided to go to the barn with them to see what I thought of it, and I really liked it.”
It wasn’t long before Wise was taking lessons at Summer Breeze Stables, in Milton, and learning the intricate moves riders use during competition. “I just kind of went for it,” she says.
That’s the initiative and dedication team coach Jan Philips, who owns the stable with her husband, Harry, is looking for. “I know if the girls do their job, the team is going to grow and get bigger,” she says. “We need to put SU on the intercollegiate equestrian map.”
Before signing on at SU, Philips led the equestrian club at Bucknell University for 17 years. That team took regional championships in three of the last four years she led the club. She was awarded the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association High Point Regional Coaching Award three times and the reserve award once.
After she had decided to take a break from coaching, she was asked to guide SU’s club. “The kids were so nice, and they really wanted to be in their own league, so I decided to do it again,” Philips says.
The team practices once a week and attends five competitions each semester. In addition to gaining riding skills, the members learn the value of teamwork. “Life isn’t all about one person,” Philips says. “It’s about caring about the other people on your team and being out there when it’s cold and rooting on your team members.”
Because the team must raise a portion of its costs, the members also learn lessons in philanthropy.
“We’re looking to do some raffles or something like a car wash,” says co-captain Amanda Cavanaugh, ’12. “The team is very close knit; we just throw ideas out to get some feedback on what the girls want to do.”
Cavanaugh has been riding most of her life and began showing when she was 8 years old. Her love of horses inspired her to join the club as a freshman. “It’s like a disease, I swear,” she says.
Co-captain Briana Billingham, ’12, who has been riding for 12 years and competing since she was 9, enjoys the camaraderie. “I love that I got to meet girls who shared the same interests as me, and we all have fun doing something we love,” she says.
Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Heather Cobun ’10, a communications and political science major from Eldersburg, Md.; Adam Hinshaw, a freelance writer from Lewisburg, Pa.; and Julie Nicolov, a freelance writer from Trevorton, Pa.