Another club that was reborn from the ashes after the coronavirus pandemic was the Brandeis Equestrian Club. According to co-captains Alex Martin ’22 and Izzy Eisendrath ’22 the club is more of a club sport than anything else.
“It is like a sports team,” Eisendrath told The Hoot in a Zoom interview. “We have fun, we compete and go to shows with other schools in the region. We are definitely a club that requires more commitment… I love people who are really interested and wanna see what it is like, [but] it is hard to keep people on the team if all they wanna do is come to the barn and touch the horses and leave,” continued Eisendrath. “There are a lot of resources that go into this, so it makes it easier for people who are really committed to the team. If you are on the team, you go to practice and you go to shows, if you are not competing, then you are cheering on your team.” This is definitely “not a club you can show up once a month for,” concluded Eisendrath.
That is not to say, however, that beginners are not welcome in the club. “Beginners are welcome, you can join at any level. We are happy to have these people, as long as they are willing to commit,” said Eisendrath. “Recruitment usually happens at the beginning of the semester, since it is hard to bring in new members in the middle of the semester because you need to evaluate their skill level,” added Martin.
Both Martin and Eisendrath emphasized that the club deals with horses, who are live animals and are dangerous. It is “dangerous to show up not knowing how to deal with a horse, and learning takes a lot of time, so if you cannot have the time, it is not the best situation,” said Eisendrath.
Currently the club has around 15 members, including people who compete and who are beginners. “The goal is to get beginners to compete at the end, but we don’t force anyone to,” said Martin. “We have a lot of practices because we don’t have 15 horses, so usually we practice in groups of four.” Most of the team’s shows are during the fall, with only a few during the spring.
The team practices at Cornerstone Farm, which is around an hour away from campus. The horses are not owned by Brandeis, but by the team’s coach. “We obviously keep our horses in Gosman … in the basement,” joked Eisendrath. “We transport them to practice at night,” added Martin. The question of where on campus the horses are stored appears to be a question the Equestrian Club is often asked. “All our shows on the soccer field,” they joked.
The club itself has been around for a long time; however, “we don’t know when it was founded and we cannot find it on the internet,” said Martin. They did however find a ribbon in Gosman dating back to 1981.
However, because of COVID-19, the club struggled with retaining members. “There was no one else other than us,” they told The Hoot. “We had to rebuild the entire team, we had to get a new coach, barn, team members.”
Because most of the members were new, they were competing for the first time and it was basically impossible for them to get enough points to qualify for competitions. However, Martin qualified for Regionals and now for Zones.
“Basically, there are a bunch of shows during the season, and when you show you get points depending on how well you place and the points qualify you for Regionals, and then if you place well at Regionals you qualify for Zones,” explained Martin. “If you qualify in Zones, you go to Nationals.”
Eisendrath qualified for Regionals in her sophomore year, but didn’t get to go because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eisendrath is a senior majoring in biology, who began riding for fun in middle school, but only started competing in her freshman year. Martin is a senior majoring in biochemistry with a minor in psychology. She started riding 14 years ago, but only joined the club in her sophomore year, right as the pandemic was beginning. “It’s been a wild ride since we became captains,” said Eisendrath.
The club is a source of joy for the co-captains; we get a “fun little emotional support animal time once or twice a week where you get to see all the horses, dogs and cats,” Eisendrath concluded.