Giddy-up! The upcoming school year will see UC Santa Barbara add yet another option to its already impressive list of club sports – horseback riding. Lexi Pandell, a Santa Barbara freshman and rider of 13 years, recently founded the Equestrian Club and will serve as captain for the upcoming season. Pandell plans for the team to attend approximately 10 shows, and is hoping to lead the new club to a spot in the 2009 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Championship held in Tennessee.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to travel and compete against other schools,” Pandell said.

Though seasoned riders like Pandell will be diligently preparing for intercollegiate competition, no prior interest is needed to join, and anyone with interest in horseback riding is encouraged to participate. Those coming in with no background will be classified as a basic member, with the ability to attend club events and participate in team riding lessons.

Lessons and other team activities will be facilitated by UCSB alumni and noted local trainer Rebecca Atwater, who will coach the team in its inaugural season with the help of her staff at Santa Barbara Stables. Atwater is both a trainer and nationally ranked competitor.

Tryouts will be held at the beginning of the upcoming school year for the competing team, where 10 riders will be chosen based on skill, enthusiasm and team requisites.

“I’m definitely excited to meet other girls with the same interests,” Pandell said. “It should be a lot of fun!”

Pandell encourages anyone with interest to join her group on Facebook, or contact her via e-mail at An informational meeting will be held Saturday, May 31 at 12:30 p.m. at Amapola Ranch.