By ARIEL COOPER
The Cornell equestrian team held its competitive streak with another strong weekend in Rochester, this time at a doubleheader hosted by Nazareth College. The Red struggled with some tough horse draws on Saturday and finished fourth with a score of 27 points — just one point behind third place Ithaca College — but rallied for a solid first place finish on Sunday with 45 points — a 13-point lead in front of second place Ithaca College.
The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association requires that riders get assigned to a random horse to compete with at each show. Most horses are provided by the school hosting the show, but individuals or other schools may donate their horses if more are needed. This factor adds a little bit of chance into the competition — even if you are a talented rider, the horse you’re riding may be having an off day. Saturday’s score reflects some unlucky draws by riders whose scores counted towards the team’s overall score, according to senior co-captain Georgiana de Rham.
“The first day I thought that generally everyone rode pretty well although there were definitely some mistakes that we need to work on,” she said. “I think a lot of it came down to some tougher draws and just the whole pointing strategy … some point riders just had some tough draws.”
Head coach Joanna Novakovic ‘03 emphasized staying positive in order to help the team pull through Saturday’s challenges and make a comeback for Sunday’s win.
“I … told the team that if they made a mistake or had a hard draw, that they [should] come out of the ring, pat their horse, thank the handler, and come tell me what they learned from the experience, rather than just being upset and getting down on themselves,” Nokavokic said in an email. “If they needed to take a few minutes to themselves to gain their composure, that was fine, but then they needed to come back with a positive attitude and be cheering on the team. I think that they all embraced this attitude and everyone seemed to loosen up a bit this weekend.”
Individual riders are continuing to point out of their divisions and earn spots at regional championships in the spring. Sunday’s show saw freshman Tamara Thompson move up from beginner walk/trot/canter to advanced walk/trot/canter and junior Katrina Donahue point out of novice flat into intermediate flat, amongst others. Donahue also took home reserve high point rider during Saturday’s show. Donahue said that she felt “pretty comfortable and confident” during her rides this weekend and that Saturday marked her first ride in a fences class at a show.
While Thompson has only been with the team for a few short months, strong performances in all of her shows so far this season allowed her to quickly move up into a higher division. She has five years of riding under her belt, but had never competed prior to joining the Red.
“I didn’t have any expectations, I just wanted to perform to the best of my ability and if I did well I did well but if I didn’t that would be okay,” Thompson said of how she felt going into the weekend. “I wasn’t expecting to point out at all this weekend so that was a welcome surprise.”
Co-captain Georgiana de Rham earned a blue ribbon for her strong showing in the open flat round on Saturday, the first day in the two-day show at Nazareth College. (Andy Johnson / Sun Staff Photographer).