On horseback and carrying flags, the ACU Riding Team will proudly lead the Homecoming parade Saturday.
The riding team dates back several decades but involvement in the team has fluctuated over the years for many reasons.
Lauren Mack, junior nursing major and co-president of the riding team from Brady, said one of the main reasons is because people don’t know about the team.
“It’s not been consistently supported, talked about and advertised,” Mack said. “So, it’s been up and down. Some years are better than others with the way that people know about it.”
Tryouts are held every semester for new and current members of the club.
Shay Kepaa, political science and livestock management major and co-president of the riding team from Stillwater, Oklahoma, said there are a wide variety of majors represented on the team.
“Usually we want more experienced people to try out due to safety reasons but we love to just have anyone come out and try out because you never know,” Kepaa said.
There is also an alternate team, which both Mack and Kepaa said makes for good competition.
“The alternates are just as involved. They’re team members,” Mack said. “They’re just not assigned a particular horse, because we don’t have the resources to assign them to another horse. So, it’s all competition for who gets assigned a horse, and that changes.”
Some members have their own horses here in Abilene, while others use horses that are provided by the ACU farm.
So far this semester the team has tried to compete or participate in an event every weekend, ranging from barrel races to parades.
“We’ll go to events every weekend or when people can but most of the time we try to all go together as a team to represent ACU,” Mack said.
There are close to 20 people on the team and Kepaa said that the people are what she loves most about the team.
“I love getting to meet all the new people,” Kepaa said. “Watching people progress, I feel like that is one of the best parts as an officer.”
Mack said the riding team feels like their own kind of social club.
“It feels really good to have a group of people that are like minded and we can kind of all get each other,” Mack said. “It’s still small enough where it’s very tight knit, and we do a lot of things together. A lot of us are really close friends outside of the club, and so that’s always been really nice.”