“Determine it”: UA Equestrian Club loses funding

The UA Equestrian Club takes the reins of fundraising after the University cuts funding to the club.

The club, with more than 20 members, has set up a GoFundMe campaign to make up for lost funding, although according to Vice President Abigayle Kneebone, this will “in no way” cover the club’s annual budget.

The club was demoted from varsity sport to club sport in March 2020. Kneebone launched a petition after the announcement. The petition received over 22,000 signatures but failed to overturn the University’s decision.

“Our coaches told us the University was not going to fund us anymore, and… we had until the end of the semester to ‘figure it out’,” Kneebone said. “It was really a wiping of the hands.”

AU spokesman Shane Dorrill said the decision was due to the “economic downturn” and the needs of students were being taken into account.

In-depth analysis including a review of the program and discussions with the program’s staff and student leaders led to its current status as a student-run sports club, similar to more than 30 other AU sports clubs and many more. many competitors in the equestrian program at other institutions, “Dorrill said in a statement to Room October 14. “Assessing spending during an economic downturn is a challenge, and UA continues to prioritize the needs of our students, their academic success, and their holistic well-being in these decisions. “

Originally, the University covered all expenses of the equestrian team after semester dues, which are $ 375 per member. Kneebone said the university had rented “a barn full of horses” near the Shelton State Community College. The University also covered the veterinary costs, the farrier’s expenses, food, registration for the competition, transport and hotel stays.

Kneebone said the “small stipend” of funding the team now receives as a club sport has forced them to completely change their program.

The Western team has reduced the horses in their care from seven to two, which means each student is less likely to train per month. The rented horses were returned to their owners, the donated horses were returned to their donors and two unclaimed horses were taken care of by a club trainer.

Of the horses returned, some were used in a therapeutic riding program that served the Tuscaloosa community. With no horses available, Kneebone said the program could no longer exist.

Some club members who are passionate about horseback riding are considering transferring schools.

“I know a lot of girls who have come to the University of Alabama specifically for the equestrian team,” Kneebone said. “Without a funded team, it’s just not worth it, especially with out-of-state tuition fees.”

Kenlee West, a freshman at the club, transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in the fall due to funding cuts.

“I love this team and the girls, but with limited supplies and support from UA it makes it difficult,” West said. “I grew up playing for the American Quarter Horse Association so seeing the team get pushed to the side was really sad.”

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