In the rolling hills just 10 minutes outside of Millersville University, there sits a picturesque 31-acre farm called Longshot Stables. This farm is where the MU Equestrian Club rides and practices throughout the semester. I had the honor of touring this beautiful farm, and I got a glimpse of how the team represents MU.
When I first entered into Longshot, I was greeted by this adorable miniature horse in front of the stables named Tulip. “She’s such a baddie!” says senior English student Halle Mosser. “She’s just so adorable,” Mosser continued, “ and has grabbed a lot of attention here at the stables and she knows it!”
Mosser has been part of the MU Equestrian team for over a year. She is the fundraising manager for the club and has ridden horses for most of her life. Mosser explains,“ I didn’t know about the club until someone in Millersville introduced me to it.” She continues, “however I did ride when I was younger and started when I was about eight years old. I lessoned and showed from that age until about 14.”
When I asked why she had suddenly stop after 14, she explains, “I had a really bad fall during a show so I kinda got spooked for a little bit. I then just started trying other sports, but the thing with horseback riders is no matter what, you always come back to it. It’s like a running joke.”
Mosser walked me inside the center of the stable, where I was introduced by Sebastian, one of the horses that Mosser will be practicing on. I examined Mosser groom and saddle Sebastian. Outside the stables, horses graze in the pastures and relax after active practice rides.
As I was petting the horses, I instantly felt a connection between the horses and I. Christine Glover, a team member at Longshot, explained how horses can help relieve stress. “Horses have that special ability to make you be totally in the moment, making talking about whatever stress you’re going through so much easier, and I feel like that’s what brings MU students here, to release stress from studies,” Glover stated. “I’ve been boarding my horse, Pocono, here since 2014, and I’ve seen tremendous growth in popularity in MU students coming here to ride and learn.”
Mosser also agrees with the horses’ healing powers. “[Riding] overall is just a therapeutic experience as it’s like that’s what horses were originally for and even from my own personal background with it, it started out as a therapy for me. I think it gives me something to look forward to during the week and also something to be proud of because it’s something I know I’m good at.”
While watching the practice and lessons, I noticed that not only MU students are welcomed, but kids of all ages too. Longshot Stables welcomes everyone, including riders of all levels and backgrounds. As stated by MU blogs and on the Equestrian Club’s Get Involved page, it doesn’t matter if you have never been around horses before and simply want to visit the barn, or if they have been competing for years and want to ride on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team. The team does not hold tryouts. Everyone is welcome.
When it comes to bringing horses here at the farm, Heidi Dout, the owner and head instructor at Longshot Stables, works with rescues across PA. “We have some wonderful ‘ponies’ at Longshot… several of which were rescued from bad situations or rehabbed from neglect. Our horses have been desensitized and exposed to many situations, making them ideal school horses for beginner riders on up. All of our horses have experience in several disciplines and enjoy a variety of different activities. In addition to our Longshot ponies, we are fortunate to use several of the privately owned horses that live here for beginner to advanced lessons.”