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Equestrian Team will remain a fixture in its members’ lives

I’d like to start by expressing my appreciation that the Collegian reached out to the Kenyon College Equestrian Team (KCET) before publishing both last week’s article about our budget cuts and this week’s update about the results of Sunday’s Student Council meeting. I understand that KCET’s budget requests can seem surprisingly large to those who aren’t involved with the team, so I’d like to articulate my sincere gratitude to Student Council for taking the time during their meeting to hear our concerns, ask thoughtful questions and debate deliberately.

Kenyon’s original equitation program dates back to 1934; the modern iteration of our club was started in 1996, and we have a strong network of alumni who can attest to the skills and experience they gained from KCET.

One of the team’s strengths comes from its inclusivity — we have members who have been riding for years as well as students who’ve never ridden before; some of our members choose to compete at horse shows with the team, while others ride only for pleasure. Because of the high costs of horse care and riding lessons, many of our members would be unable to ride were it not for KCET. We provide a way for students to try something new or continue pursuing a passion as affordably as possible.

For many members of our team, KCET was a deciding factor when choosing a college, and prospective students often reach out to us to inquire about our riding program. For me, however, I had no idea that being a member — and now a captain — of this team would become one of the most significant aspects of my life in college. Over the past few years, I’ve realized a newfound confidence from competing in horse shows. I’ve been able to put my organizational skills to the test and develop my abilities as a leader. What matters most, though, are the connections I’ve made from KCET — connections not only with teammates who’ve become some of my best friends, but also with members of the Knox County community. I’ve gotten to know individuals beyond the Hill, like Jim Gabriel, the owner of the farm where we ride, and his wife Gisela Rosenbaum, who sadly passed away earlier this year. They’ve welcomed us into their home over the past six years and have even provided lodging for KCET family members over graduation. Erica Parnisari, our coach, is finishing the last of her eight years with KCET. She has been such an important presence in my life, and I feel so lucky to have had her as a coach and a mentor who has continued to push me out of my comfort zone in the most encouraging way possible.

The past week has been a tumultuous one, as I’ve struggled with the prospect of losing a team in which I and many others are so invested. Because the money we are given by the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) goes almost entirely to local businesses and services, it effectively placed into the Knox County community; our team also works hard to fundraise more than $3,000 a year by spending a weekend working the concession stands at Cedar Point and putting on pancake fundraisers. The decision made by Student Council on Sunday was an incredible relief, and I’m grateful to everyone who has shown us support, from team members and alumni to concerned friends and family. Moving forward, we hope to do everything we can to ensure a secure future for KCET — a future which the BFC finds reasonable and which allows us to continue providing Kenyon students, past and present, with an experience that has been important to so many people, including a community beyond the Hill.

Katherine Jimenez-Gray ’18 is an English and psychology major from San Rafael, Calif. You can contact her at jimenezgrayk@kenyon.edu.