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Reviving the Ride: Equestrian Club is Back and Better than Ever


The University of North Georgia Equestrian club flies under the radar, but has found a lot of success during its time on campus.

The club is based in Dahlonega, but is open to all five of UNG’s campuses, with current members from the Gainesville, Dahlonega and Cumming campuses. They practice, board, and coach at Edgewater Equestrian.

The club has been around for 18 years, however COVID-19 resulted in the loss of multiple members which led to a hiatus. The club was unable to compete in competitions during this time. Current club President, Sydney Stayton- a junior kinesiology major at UNG- shared that the club has grown quite a bit since then and is now up to 17 active members.

UNG Equestrian Club Members photo provided by Tori Collins

Stayton said that one of her goals has been making the club more inclusive. Not just open to those who have ridden horses their whole lives, but to anyone and all skill levels.

Competing in shows is just one aspect of the club. Members choose their level of participation, ranging from just coming to ride horses, practicing with the club or simply hanging out with friends. Members can decide how involved and serious they want to be. “It’s very inviting cause anyone who wants to ride can,” Stayton said.

Tori Collins (left) and Sydney Stayton (right) with club’s horse. Photo by Owen Langford

“It is great to get people who understand what you do and why you do it.”- Sydney Stayton, President of UNG’s Equestrian Club

The club provides everything members would need to ride, even the horse. Equestrian can be a very expensive sport, but the club has put a large focus on making it affordable. Members still must pay dues to participate. Stayton and the coaches allow members to work at the boarding house where they train and store their horses to help pay for their dues.

Edgewater Equestrian’s boarding stables photo by Owen Langford

Though UNG is a Division II school, the club faces Division I opponents. The club has traveled all over the South to compete in shows and has gone up against prestigious universities such as Alabama, Auburn, Berry, and Mississippi State.

Several members have qualified for regionals, Stayton being one of them. In their last show new comer, Tori Collins -a freshmen elementary and special education major at UNG- came away with a first-place selection in her division.

Club photo post competition photo provided by Tori Collins

Collins said that the club means a lot to her. She says she has grown a lot, not just in her game, but in other aspects of her life also. Collins said, “I do not think that I would have enjoyed college as much as I have if I had not joined the club.”

Stayton believes that their success comes from turning a typically individualistic sport into a community of riders. They pride themselves in working together to earn as many points as possible rather than just for oneself.

Owners of Edgewater Equestrian, Chelsea Cates and Alyana Yarck, are graduates of UNG. Cates and Yarck were club members during their time in school and are overjoyed the new growth.

“I love how many people on the club have never ridden before, it is great to see them learning,” Alyana Yarck , Co-Owner of Edgewater Equestrian

The club has three regular-season competitions left before they head to regionals. With potential runs to the semifinals and nationals in sight, Stayton is not getting ahead of herself. She says they are more focused on her and the club’s performances at their next events.

For information on the club go to their UNG connect page. Their socials are @ungeqteam on Instagram, @ung_equestrian on TikTok and @universityofnorthgeorgiaequestrian on Facebook.

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Owen Langford, Editor in Chief
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Reviving the Ride: Equestrian Club is Back and Better than Ever