Megan Garrett | Staff Writer
While you won’t see any horses galloping down A-Walk, Duquesne does in fact have an equestrian team.
Caitlin Phalunas, captain of the Duquesne University Equestrian Team (DUET), recently started a crowdfunding drive to allow more riders to afford to join the team. Phalunas said the team should have a bigger presence on campus.
“What I really want students and the Duquesne community to know is how much we want them to be involved with our team — whether that is through giving a donation or attending a show,” Phalunas said.
An officially recognized club sport at Duquesne, DUET is always looking for additional riders who share their love for the sport, Phalunas said. There are currently seven members, including Phalunas and fellow junior co-captain Sara McKissick, who is studying psychology and minoring in chemistry.
When the junior biomedical engineering major isn’t busy studying, Phalunas can often be found at Fox Hollow Stables in Wampum, Pennsylvania, about a 40 minute drive north from Duquesne. The group of dedicated horse lovers practice various gaits, or styles of walking, and skills to perform later in competitions.
DUET has independently maintained itself for 10 years now, according to Phalunas and McKissick. The teammates pay out of their own pocket to provide themselves the opportunity to continue competing in Ohio for regional competitions. Trotting, jumping over barrels and other skills will earn riders points. Riders who earn 24 points by the end of a semester move on to the next level in the spring.
In 2015, the riders placed fourth in regional-level competition. In 2014, after finishing second at regionals, one rider went on to compete at the next level in “zones,” which covers riders from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
Linda Stevens, who has been coaching equestrian for more than 20 years, is in charge of DUET. She has about 60 different horses to choose from at Fox Hollow Stables.
Phalunas said she likes to ride Hero, a horse that used to compete in Grand Prix show jumping events. Club members must care for their steeds, as horses need to be groomed and hosed down to fight sweat.
According to Phalunas, even a $10 contribution would be helpful. The team has currently raised $1,430 — about halfway toward their goal of $3,000.
Lessons are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, costing $500 per semester, not including costs or riding gear and traveling expenses. The team’s first competition of the fall takes place Oct. 15 and 16 in Coolville, Ohio, hosted by Thiel College.
The fundraising drive is open until midnight on Oct. 19. Donations to the equestrian team can be made at www.spirit.duq.edu/project/2900.