Last spring, wearing borrowed boots that were two sizes too big, Jordan Jones ’13 earned a third place ribbon at her first collegiate horse show. It was the first ribbon Mary Baldwin had earned in more than a decade and the beginning of the riding club’s return to regional competition.
This year the team has grown from two riders to five, with members representing the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG), the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, transfer students, and the Residential College for Women. The addition of three freshmen to the team is especially exciting to Lydia Petersson, riding club sponsor and director of sponsored programs and undergraduate research at Mary Baldwin.
“My goals for the club are to grow the team and get consistency in team practice,” said Petersson, who is looking forward to the whole group riding at the Sweet Briar College Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competition on December 1.
The riding club meets to practice as a team at Grey Gables Farm in Swoope on Tuesday afternoons, a new development from last year when members mostly practiced individually. Jones, the only senior on the team, has taken on a leadership role and hopes to be an inspiration to the club even after she graduates.
“I hope I have taught them that they can do anything they want to here on campus, just as I have done with the club and team,” she said. “My goal for the team is that it continues to grow in the future, gain support and recognition from the Mary Baldwin community and other colleges in our region, and that we continue to compete with our heads high despite all of the challenges we have facing us and to have fun while doing so.”
One of the freshmen who joined the team this fall is Kelly McGowan, of Charlotte Hall, Maryland. A PEG student, McGowan came straight to Mary Baldwin from eighth grade and joined the riding club to develop an interest she has held since the age of 5.
“My goals are pretty much improving my technique — a constant goal, and one to which many athletes constantly subscribe — and, as always, place as high as I can in meets,” McGowan said. “Don’t panic, try not to die, and have fun!”
As the team grows, members hope to garner support from the Mary Baldwin community and alumnae/i for equipment, funds for riding lessons, and moral support.