While most students were making their way through their last week of classes and preparing for Slope Day, five members of the equestrian team, their coach and two horses traveled to Raleigh, N.C. for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s national competition. Senior Bronwyn Scrivens and freshman Georgiana de Rham competed in the Cacchione class and intermediate fences, respectively, while junior co-captain Emily Kowalchik and freshmen Sofia Steinberger and Mary Beth Hannon went as volunteers.
“The amazing thing about it all is that it is such a big production but the ISHA is a completely volunteer non-profit organization,” Kowalchik said.
Nationals brings together the top horses and riders from across the country to one major event. Competition was fierce; however, Scrivens and de Rham performed well. Scrivens placed 11th in the Cacchione, while de Rham came in fifth place for intermediate fences.
“Georgi and Bronwyn both did phenomenally well,” Kowalchik said.
With strong competitors and a variety of horses, riding to the top at nationals was no easy task. Scrivens and de Rham both drew the same horse, a small grey named Tabasco, according to head coach Chris Mitchell. Horses are as different as cars, and Tabasco was not the type of horse that de Rham was used to riding.
“I was a little nervous about it, but I was able to get on and I feel like the horse and I got along really well and I was really pleased with my ride,” she said. “It’s good for me to have to ride those horses that are out of my comfort zone.”
For Scrivens, who stands at six feet tall, riding Tabasco was also a challenge.
“My first horse was small and I’m pretty tall,” she said.
“For her jumping class she didn’t have the best draw, [but] she definitely made what she could of it,” Steinberger said.
However, despite the added challenge, Scrivens said that she pleased with the outcome.
“Overall, I was pretty happy with my performance,” she said.
Scrivens was just one point shy of 10th place, according to Mitchell.
“She rode really well,” he said. “Even though [she] didn’t get a ribbon, [she’s] still 11th in the country [and] that’s pretty darn good.”
Mitchell also said that he was pleased with de Rham’s performance in fences.
“I was very excited for her, very happy to see that she put it all together and came out with a fifth in the country … that was phenomenal,” he said.
“I think that coming out of it even though I was fifth I feel like I did the best that I could that day so I don’t have any regrets,” said de Rham.
Although the Red did not compete as a team at nationals, the results of the team competition highlighted that Cornell is a member of an extremely competitive zone. St. Lawrence placed first as a team, followed by Skidmore in second place and Brown in third, according to Kowalchik. St. Lawrence and Skidmore are both members of the same zone as the Red. Cornell also lost to Brown in this year’s Ivy Show.
“It feels better knowing that we [were beaten] by the best of the best, but it’s also difficult knowing that those are the two teams that we have to beat every year to get to nationals as a team and they’re really stiff competition,” Kowalchik said.
While the team competes at many shows throughout the season, most of them are on a much smaller scale than this past weekend.
“It’s always a way bigger event than any other show we’re at all year,” Kowalchik said.
The level of competition is also much higher than at a regular season show.
“It really inspired me to work much harder because I realized how big of a deal it was,” Steinberger said.
Both Scrivens and de Rham were grateful for the opportunity to compete at nationals.
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in other parts of my life to work at riding and it’s kind of cool to feel like that dedication has paid off ,” said de Rham.
“I really enjoyed it. I had a great time,” Scrivens said. “It was a nice way to end the season.”