The Red traveled to Rochester this weekend to compete in its third and fourth shows of the season. Coming off of another double header from the weekend before, the team struggled to perform to the best of its ability. The squad tied for third place on the first day behind Alfred and Ithaca, and finished in eighth on the second, according to senior tri-captain Emily Kowalchik. “It’s difficult to have four shows in eight days,” said senior tri-captain Emily Webster. “There’s not a lot of time to improve on the mistakes that we’re making in [these] shows because they are so close together … and everyone’s exhausted by the eighth day.”“We’ve never, at least in our time on the team, had two double headers back to back so obviously exhaustion played a part,” Kowalchik agreed. With a new coach and some new team members — both human and equine — there have been a lot of changes to the squad this year. Last season, the Red was undefeated until the very last show. Cornell took home the regional champion title and sent the team to Zones as well as two riders to Nationals. However, it will take time for the team to adjust this season.“It’s been a big transition year for us with the new coach and we’re not seeing the same success that we were last year, but I don’t think that reflects anything about our riding,” said sophomore Renee Botelho. “I think we’re all getting better but it’s just a learning process for everybody.”New head coach Todd Karn has been working to build his relationship with the team and bring everyone together.“We’re just really working on representing the school in a strong way and getting our personalities adjusted to do that,” he said. “We’ve been working on that because we’re all pretty new to one another. We’re just trying to make it a stronger unity.” Despite the fact that the Red was not thrilled with its results, it did not let its performance bring down the squad. “Throughout the whole weekend the team did have a positive attitude,” said senior tri-captain Zofia Hilton. “We kept up that team spirit even though things might not have been as good [as we wanted].” “You’re never gonna win if you keep doubting yourself,” Webster said.Although the team as a whole did not have much success this weekend, four of the riders earned enough points to begin competing in a higher division. Sophomores Renee Botelho and Sofia Steinberger, junior Amanda Sevcik, and senior Erika Hooker all moved up a division as a result. In addition to being able to compete at a higher level, they also automatically earned spots at Nationals, according to Kowalchik. “We had a lot of girls point out … and it was really great to see that because a lot of them have been trying [to point out] for a long time,” said Hilton. For Hooker, moving up is something that she has been working on for awhile. “For me its been a long time coming,” she said.” “I’m a senior this year and I started out in novice — flat and fences — and I lost all of last year because I went abroad. I was gone in the fall [and] that’s when our show season is. So [it] was really difficult for me to come back into it this year from being abroad and not showing last year.”Hooker and Sevcik both moved up from the novice to the intermediate division — Hooker for the flat classes and Sevcik for fences. According to both Hooker and Sevcik, the Red is currently lacking intermediate riders on the team. Steinberger and Botelho both needed to win their classes this weekend in order to move up. “I had to win the class in order to point out,” said Steinberger. “I was really really happy that I went out and pointed out of intermediate with such [a] positive and successful ride.”“[It] was really nerve wracking because I needed six [points] to point up and if I had gotten second I would have been a point off so I had to get first,” Botelho said. While equestrian is designed as an individual sport, Botelho pointed out that in the Intercollegiate Horse Association, teamwork is very important. The team is responsible for the care of its four horses, and if some riders did not stay back to help out at the barn the others would not have been able to travel to the show. “It takes a whole team,” said Botelho. “The people who stayed home covered a lot of chores for everybody … [with] these shows, even if we don’t win it takes a whole team to just go to them.”With four shows already under the team’s belt, the Red now has to focus on competing in but also hosting its next show. Cornell typically hosts two shows a year — one each semester — at the Oxley Equestrian Center. While it can be difficult to perform well at a show while running it at the same time, the team is confident that things will go smoothly. “[Running the show has] always been a huge stress before but we have a great group this year [so] I’m not as worried about it,” Kowalchik said. “I think with the girls that we have on this team and the amount of dedication that they have I think that its going to run very smoothly … I don’t have any doubts about that,” said Hilton. In equitation, home field advantage comes with the perk of being able to compete on the same horses that the team uses in practice. “We have really good team horses, better than most of the schools we’ve been competing against. So I think we’re gonna see a little different outcome at our own show,” said Karn. Overall, the squad is looking forward to the weekend and hopes to improve on its performance at Nazareth. “[Nazareth] was a good learning experience,” said Sevcik.
Original Author: Ariel Cooper