Universities are well-known for their weird and wonderful range of societies but you perhaps wouldn’t expect one to have an equestrian team.
But that’s exactly the case at UCLan (and indeed at many other universities across the country), where the club boasts four competitive riding teams.
They each compete in a different regional mini-league against other university teams across the north of England, hoping to progress through to the latter stages of the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) league.
The team have recently begun training and competing at Myerscough College in Bilsborrow, just a 20 minute drive, or a 35 minute gentle canter north of Preston.
Mariella Forward is Chair of UCLan’s Equestrian team. She explained the format of the BUCS league.
She said: “We compete against three other universities so we have four competitions throughout the year.
“We do dressage and showjumping in university competition.”
It’s been a tough start to the season in terms of results, as the team fell to defeat in their first league fixture, but Forward is encouraged by some individual performances and remains optimistic looking ahead.
She said: “In our previous competition we did come last, but individually we had a fifth-placed rider out of the whole competition.
“There’s quite a big range of abilities but obviously we’ve only just started training here (at Myerscough College) and we’re getting to know the new horses and new people.
“This year, from comments from the judges and the instructors, we’ve been riding very well and very nicely in competition.”
While Forward has taken a step back from competing herself, she still remains very much involved at the club.
She said: “Personally, I’m not competing very much at the moment. I’ve just started training a new horse who is quite green and I’ve been teaching him new things.
“But previously on my own horse, I used to ride every week or every other week in competitions at national level, both in showjumping and dressage.”
The team will be hoping to get back on track and avoid two consecutive last-place finishes next time out.