Why ride with Irish Equestrian?

Irish Equestrian Club consists of 2 levels of membership; those who compete in events throughout Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and members that ride weekly, but do not compete.
The club practices at a barn located 10 miles from campus in the town of Niles, MI. Each club and team member has a weekly lesson, which is approximately 12 lessons per semester.
The team belongs to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), residing in Zone 7, Region 4 and competes in 10 shows per year within the IHSA. The team has won many regular season honors, including High Point and Reserve High Point team at several horse shows. Riders have qualified for all post-season levels of competition, at Regionals, Zones and Nationals.
Consistently one of the top teams in Region 2, the equestrians again garnered many high-point and reserve high-points honors this year. Using a local stable and coach, the club offers lessons and schooling weekly to riders of all levels, from walk trot to open fences. Undergraduates are eligible to compete in any of 10 regular season shows as members of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.


Irish Riding Tradition

The origins of the team date back to the 1987 Special Olympics held at the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College campuses. The schedule of events included an Equestrian Arts demonstration, but neither campus had the facilities required to host such an event.

Associate Notre Dame librarian Stephen Hayes, a rider with more than a decade of experience, served as the barn manager during the Olympics. He and several other students were hard at work prior to the events, building a tent and a ring from scratch. After the closing ceremonies, people asked why the colleges didn’t have a riding club. Hayes decided to start one, thus beginning the long tradition the team continues today.

About Us

Our Instructors


Weekly lessons are with Kerry Hilgendorf at the Lucky Horse Equestrian Center located in Niles, MI.

Our Facility

Indoor Arena

We are thrilled to be a part of Lucky Horse Equestrian Center, located just miles from campus featuring a large indoor arena and two outdoor arenas.

Our Horses

Riders are matched to horses of similar skills and abilities for their weekly riding lessons.