UF equine team finds new home in Marion County

Leah Harmon rides Quickieon at Kimberden Farm on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, in Fellowship, Florida. The UF Hunt Seat riding team moved to the farm this semester.

Lee Ferinden/Special to the Ocala Star-Banner
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.

Last year, the University of Florida Hunt Seat Team had lost so many members it was hard to even put a full team together for competitions.

But since moving to a new training facility in Marion County in August, the team has sprung back to life with one of the biggest memberships in years.

“We found a new home at Kimberden. It allows for a much better team atmosphere all around since Kim (Burnette) and Karen (Kenny) both travel with us to shows. Having a coach along is a big asset,” said Lindsey Powers, a UF senior and co-captain of the team.

Burnette, who owns Kimberden Farm in Fellowship, in northwest Marion County, is also thrilled with the team.

“We have girls that are here almost every day. It's a great club. They do a lot of projects in the community. It's a really good group of girls. I was really blessed that they are good leaders,” she said.

The team is not a varsity team like other athletics at the university. The club is funded through student government and is considered a recreational sport. But the team - which is part of the bigger University of Florida Equestrian Club that also features a dressage team and western riding team - compete in intercollegiate shows throughout the year.

Hunt seat is one of the classic forms of riding. The way the rider holds their body is distinct from dressage riders or western riders. In competition, the rider is judged on their posture and position when riding and jumping.

“This year there is a lot more people. It has been our biggest team. We usually can only take about 18 people to shows. Last year, we were only taking 12 because there weren't enough riders,” said Samantha Boehm, a sophomore and the team's other co-captain.

There are about 50 members in the club this year.

“I love the facility, we have access to a lot of horses every week. They try to give us lessons on different horses, which is really beneficial,” Powers said.

At competitions, riders are randomly assigned a horse on which to compete.

“This is the first time we've been able to ride horses every week. They have enough horses for us all to get a chance to ride,” Powers said.

Burnette, who has coached other college teams in the past, said she was glad to help the team.

“The facility is large enough to accommodate them. We have already seen more interest,” she said. “It was a win, win.”

The team has placed third in its first three shows. Their next show is Jan. 12 at the University of South Florida. The UF team will then host its home show Jan. 27 at Burnette's farm.

“I'm really glad we found Kimberden. Kim is 100 percent behind the team. She backs us all the way,” Bohem said.

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