November 12, 2012

EQUESTRIAN | Cornell Dominates Alfred, Binghamton at Home Show

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After a disappointing weekend at Nazareth, the Red came back in full force and dominated at its semi-annual home show at Oxley Equestrian Center this past Sunday. Coming out on top with a 15 point lead over Alfred and Binghamton, Cornell swept the open, intermediate and novice fences as well as the open and intermediate flat classes, according to senior tri-captain Emily Kowalchik. At the end of the day, the Red was two points shy of a perfect score.“It was an amazing day,” said senior Erika Hooker. “We were two points away from a perfect score. I don’t think we’ve done that in a few years, so that was really exciting.”Hooker was one of the five riders who participated in the ride-off to determine who would be the high point rider of the day. The other four riders — freshmen Reina Baizan and Meredith Meyer, sophomore Madeleine Breen, and Kowalchik —were all Cornell riders. Meyer won high point rider while Kowalchik earned reserve high point rider.“It was really exciting [to win] just because I’m a rookie so that was my first experience [winning high point rider] and because my parents were there so it was fun for them to be able to see that,” Meyer said.Because equestrian is not designed as a team sport, it is not uncommon to find yourself competing against your teammate at a show. However, the squad did not let the competition affect its team spirit.“It was really fun because no matter what [happened] I would be happy with the results just because one of us would’ve won,” Meyer said. “It was more relaxed because I [knew] all of [the other riders].”“It was fun … It was entertaining to be in a ride-off for high point rider against all these other girls on your own team because it felt like it should have been practice, or a lesson,” Hooker said.While it can sometimes be difficult for the squad to both run and succeed at its own show, the task did not prove to be too challenging for the Red riders.“I think [the show] went really smoothly,” said head coach Todd Karn. “They did an incredible job from cleaning the barn in the morning to getting the horses ready … [And] at the end of a very long day — which didn’t end till 5:30 p.m. — they cleaned everything up again.”The show was a huge comeback for the Red after a third place and an eighth place finish at last weekend’s double header. What made the difference, according to both Karn and Kowalchik, was not necessarily better riding — it was team spirit.“I think you have an advantage on your home turf because they knew the horses,” Karn said. “But there was also a revived team spirit. I think we have that pretty much cemented now that this is the attitude we want to go forward with.”“I think we did a lot of work this past week, not necessarily on our riding but on our actual team spirit and I think that actually went a long way,” Kowalchik added. “There’s not much time in between the horse shows to work on technique like we would like to, so we kind of were at a point where we were willing to trying anything to make the change. [W]e talked a lot about having a positive attitude and not letting it get to this point where we’re still overwhelmed with not having that success yet and I think that that really helped.”In order to calculate each team’s final score, certain riders are chosen to be “point riders” for the day. This means that their results will be the ones to affect the team’s score. However, squads will often allow additional riders to compete even though their scores will have no bearing on the team’s overall score. The fact that even the Red’s riders who were not point riders were winning their classes contributed to the squad’s huge lead, as this prevented point riders from other teams from winning first place, according to Kowalchik. As a result of its victory, the team is now third in the regional standings behind Alfred and Ithaca. There is only an eight point difference between Cornell and Alfred.“We made up fifteen points in one day, so making up eight points in three shows will be no problem,” Kowalchik said.Since the show was at home, every single member of the team was able to attend and witness the Red’s success.“When you have all the girls riding that well and it’s a home show so everyone on the team is there to support each other … It makes it that much more meaningful to have a day that goes that well,” Hooker said.The team hopes that this weekend’s success will mark the beginning of an upward trend for the remainder of its season.“If we were gonna have a big win like this I’m so glad that it was able to happen at home because every single member of our team was there even if they weren’t competing, and I think it’s really important that they were able to see how great it is to win,” Kowalchik said. “That’s going to go a long way for team spirit, having had the entire team there and get caught up in the moment of how exciting it was … That was exactly what we needed.”

Original Author: Ariel Cooper