Students of Harrison High School may have recently seen posters promoting HEC.
HEC, or Harrison Equine Club, was founded by Mackenna Hale, along with Abby Deno, who are both freshmen, and Mariah Ellwood, who is a senior.
“I wanted to form an equine club so then all the horse crazy people could unite,” said Hale. “I have learned, in the short time that I have been at Harrison, that high school can be a little overwhelming, and it's very beneficial to be able to have a positive outlet that will take some of the stress away.”
“[Hale] shared her idea with a few of us who all board our horses at the same equestrian center. We wanted to gather Harrison Raiders who have an interest in horses. We all agreed to meet up and organize the club, and we all worked hard to make the idea of the club a reality,” says Ellwood.
Hale says the club’s main goal is to have fun and bring horse-lovers together, and no experience with horses is necessary to be a part of the club.
“We want to provide equine education opportunities along with community service,” said Hale.
For example, HEC has teamed up with a local therapeutic riding center that will offer volunteer hours for anyone interested.
Equine-assisted therapy has been gaining considerable attention lately.
That it not to say it is a new practice. The ancient Greeks often used equine therapy for people with incurable diseases.
While many professionals say it should be used along with, and not instead of, other therapies, it is helpful for disabled individuals with relaxation and gaining muscle tone, coordination, confidence, and well-being.
“When riding a horse, you two are a team and do everything together,” said Ellwood. “They can teach you everything there is to know about collaboration ‒ leadership, forgiveness, love, and so much more.”
Ellwood also mentions that the club plans to host fundraisers for equine rescues and other therapy facilities, including a possible appearance by a pony at future football games.
“There are many educational opportunities already lined up for next school year along with some fun equine themed outings,” says Hale. “I will venture to say, the general population doesn’t realize how grand and how far reaching the equine community is in today’s society.”
“It is truly amazing the knowledge and opportunities available for individuals interested in horses.”
Most members of HEC do have experience with riding horses, and Hale herself has spent considerable time with them.
“I have been riding horses for almost nine years now, so everything horse-related comes pretty natural to me,” said Hale. “I started off just taking lessons with a trainer but then slowly progressed to horse ownership. I compete in eventing, and I truly love anything to do with horses.”
Ellwood was very adamant about her love for horses.
“They aren't often viewed like dogs or cats, as companion animals, because they are so large and are herding animals, but to me horses are more like a man's best soul mate rather than a man's best friend,” said Ellwood.
“Horses are capable of building strong connections with people. To trust such a large animal and for them to trust you back is something very special and rare.”
Riding horses can be intimidating ‒ they are incredibly powerful and can sometimes be unpredictable.
“Horses have also made me come to realize how precious time and life is,” Ellwood said. “Horses are often getting hurt. They are delicate beasts I guess you could say. Sometimes they have a simple accident in the pasture, and they will never be able to be ridden again. In fact, that scenario isn't very uncommon. Horses have taught me to cherish everything I have right now.”
If you have any interest in horses at all, Ellwood and Hale urge you to become a part of the Harrison Equine Club.
“Even if you have never touched a horse in your life, but want to learn and interact with horses, you are totally welcome,” says Hale.