Haughton residents bring back riding club they grew up with
Jessica Normand can’t remember a time when horses weren’t a major part of her life.
Her passion for horses goes back to when she was a young member of the Haughton Riding Club, a non-profit organization which began before she was even born. Growing up with the club provided Normand the opportunity to make friends with children who had the very same passion she did.
Like Normand, Ashley Dent and her family were part of the riding club for many years. By the time she was in eighth grade, Dent was working with her very own horse, a five-year-old mare she named Rebel.
“I ate, slept, and breathed riding that horse,” Dent said. “She kept me so busy.”
In high school, she had the mare trained for rodeo competition and traveled every weekend with her family to local and state events.
After years of success in the community, the riding club phased out and eventually became nonexistent. Now, the Haughton residents are back in the saddle again and starting over with both new and old generation members.
“A lot of kids, like Jessica and I, grew up here,” Dent, club president, said. “We have kids of our own and we want them to grow up like we did.”
The Haughton Riding Club was re-established in September 2011 and has already had quite a community turnout. The club recently hosted their first trail ride fundraising event at the place where it all got started many years ago – 304 W. McKinley Avenue.
“Just within a few months, our membership has really taken off,” Patty Battlefield, a returning member to the riding club, said.
Since September, the original riding arena has been completely rebuilt and they are hoping to work on a new announcer’s stand. The ultimate goal is to make the Haughton Riding Club a place for anyone to go, whether they own a horse or not.
“We want everyone to come have a good time with their family,” Normand, club vice president, said. “It’s not all about the competition, but the camaraderie too.”
With their comeback is the chance to bring back traditional activities, including the club’s pageant and participating with other riding clubs. However, Normand said they are looking to build new traditions and offer more agricultural activities to the community.
One of those activities, Normand said, is a horse education program that would teach things like horse anatomy, nutrition, grooming, saddle and tack, transportation and horsemanship. Battlefield, the club’s secretary, said the new activities will also bring new opportunities for non-traditional athletes.
“It’s going to give the kids another avenue to express themselves and to really learn a lot,” Battlefield said. “There’s so much kids learn through agriculture and some kids don’t get exposed to it.”
She added that there are more life lessons to learn through working with horses than there are with traditional sports.
“We felt like the community, as a whole, needed something else for the kids to get involved in,” she said. “We wanted something the community could get behind again that was wholesome and family oriented.”
The future of the club is looking bright and Battlefield said they hope to one day construct a new clubhouse. Since the Haughton Riding Club is a non-profit organization, Battle field said all the money they raised through fundraisers and donations go straight back into the facility and grounds.
Unlike traditional sports, working with horses is an ongoing, year-round task. However, Normand said it’s not just a hobby for those who are truly passionate.
“It becomes your life,” she said. “It’s a complete lifestyle and a good one too.”