Horse club grows leaders, community, equine industry



Erin Thomas (left) and Ellory Jacoby , Horse Club members, help with the Horse Club petting zoo last fall.

Natalie Beckendorf, Reporter

The SDSU horse club experiences tremendous growth by going beyond campus grounds to build leaders, serve the Brookings community and promote the equine industry. 

Carmen Paulson, SDSU horse club adviser and equine instructor, has experienced growth throughout her five years as adviser, especially this fall. The horse club had 26 members when she took over in 2018. The membership today is nearly double that amount. 

Sixty-one South Dakota State University students currently construct the 2022 horse club with visions to expand. Paulson gives much of the credit to the members’ ambition and passion for the equine industry. 

Nicole Matter, horse club president, is responsible for running the meetings, executing events and directing the club in all endeavors. Her leadership stands the test of time because she initially got involved by taking on a leadership role as a freshman. 

“No one volunteered for the proxy council officer position and I took a leap of faith and continued to move up in the club from there,” Matter said. 

Matter enjoys the diverse opportunities available within the club. She especially appreciates the trail rides because it allows her to relax from the stress of college. 

Regardless of members’ equine expertise, the horse club provides everyone the opportunity to interact with horses. Paid members ride into their year at SDSU with an hour-long annual trail ride for experienced riders, whereas beginners start in the arena with lessons and embark on trail rides when they feel comfortable.

The equine teaching facility plays a vital role in the equine program and club. 

“I don’t teach a class that does not utilize the equine teaching facility,” Paulson said. 

The equine facility allows students to receive hands-on learning that will help them beyond the walls of SDSU. Members assist with care of horses during grooming days which occur throughout the year. 

The club historian, Cathryn Bauer, got involved with the horse club her freshman year. She joined because she wanted to grow her love for equine by directly interacting with horses and connecting with other students that are equine enthusiasts. 

As a child, Bauer had always loved and admired horses, but never had direct access to horses. She wants to inspire students that don’t come from an agriculture background like herself. 

“This club has helped me find my place and passion,” Bauer said. “It showed me that the more effort you put into some the greater you’ll get out of it.” 

A main focus for the horse club that Bauer appreciates is community outreach, which equally benefits club members and the community. 

The horse club utilizes SDSU livestock to put on an educational petting zoo for the Brookings community. This provides students the opportunity to share their equine knowledge and expand their network.

Members also participate in South Dakota Ag Day in Sioux Falls. The club constructs an interactive kid friendly booth with hopes to inspire equine interest in the younger generation. 

“The interaction with the youth has been one of my favorite parts of the horse club, because it allows you to give back to the industry,” Matter said. 

Every fall the horse club jumpstarts their club with an open house which provides tours of the equine facilities and overview of the club to prospective members. If you missed the open house, people are encouraged to join them in any activity or meeting. 

The horse club is committed to creating an enjoyable and stressless environment for its participants. One of the club’s favorite activities includes collaboration with other clubs. Every spring, the club recruits members of the rodeo team to teach members different methods to rope dummies. After lots of practice, the clubs unite and have a friendly roping competition. 

Paulson’s favorite part of her role is her enthusiastic audience. Having the opportunity to constantly learn about horses and people through teaching and advising the horse club is huge. She highly recommends all students to get involved on campus. 

“The horse club is an easy and rewarding club to get involved with as the only requirement to be a member of the horse club is to simply have an interest in horses,” Paulson said.