For people who own horses, moving to a new city can mean losing a dear friend.

This is where the UT Equestrian Team can help. The equestrian team is a club sport that offers lessons in western and hunt seat as well as recreation riding. Founded in 1975, the team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association in hunt seat equitation and western horsemanship.

The team has 40-50 members taking lessons this semester. In terms of experience, members range from none to national players. Beginners Gabby Palladion, Leila Owen and Caitlin McCord agreed that interacting with the horses is one of the best aspects of the program. The team atmosphere is also a highlight.

Currently being housed by Hartbrook Farm in New Market, Tenn., the team has access to 23 school horses, up from the original six when they switched farms two years ago. Coach Michele Thompson said she loves the current group of riders.

“There is a good string of horses and riders,” Thompson said. “Much more of a dedicated group.”

Thompson has experience in Jumpers and Western and has coached multiple Congress and World champions and reserve champions.

Thompson said there used to be a “No Drama” sign on the farm, but it has been taken down after it was obvious that the team had united and there was no need to settle arguments between members.

All active members pay dues and lesson fees each semester. The lesson fees give each rider a one-hour lesson each week. Although the club can cater to new riders, being cheaper than most lesson programs also can save the experienced rider money.

Beginners can choose a certain style of riding or choose a recreational lesson that includes using some of the 1,000 miles of trails that are on the 150-acre farm.

Riders are given a different horse each lesson, and after they gain experience they are able to compete. The team currently has about 20 members that compete, and they finished fourth in their league last year.

Current club president Kimberly King, senior in food science, has faced many issues in her two-year reign. During her junior year the team faced a major decision on a barn change. Their old head coach became pregnant so they decided to move the team to another barn on short notice.

“The team is my child, I have to take care of them,” King sad. “It is much easier to change trainers by yourself, but as a group it is much harder. I carry this team on my shoulders and I take the responsibility, but with the help of the officers we were able to come up with the decision.”

The club also participates in several activities throughout the year like Light the Night walk and Trunk or Treat. They have bi-weekly meetings and free pizza for anyone interested.

For more information on the club contact the president in waiting, Kathleen Wilson, at kwilso63@utk.edu or visit their website http://universityoftennesseeequestrianteam.blogspot.com.