Coming off of a win at Alfred University before winter break, the equestrian team is back and ready to take on the remainder of the season. With two shows left before regionals, Cornell is just three points behind Alfred, and the team has plenty of time to close the gap.
The Red has seen some slight changes to its roster this semester. With riders earning enough points to compete in higher divisions, the team decided to hold open rides on Feb. 1 in order to fill in the gaps. In addition, a number of girls sent emails to the squad over the break indicating that they were interested in being part of the team, according to senior tri-captain Zofia Hilton.
“We were looking for girls … that really showed that they wanted to be a part of our team,” she said. “And we just wanted to give them a chance.”
After open rides, sophomores Sarah Cochran, Hilary Yu and Laura Mastrosimone became the equestrian team’s newest members. Cochran and Yu will ride in the walk-trot division, while Mastrosimone — who rode on Hofstra’s equestrian team before transferring to Cornell this spring — will be showing in novice.
“I kind of wanted to be involved in something new this semester,” Cochran said when asked why she decided to join the team. “I really like riding horses, I love meeting new people … and it’s nice to [be] a part of something, especially on a big campus.”
Although Cochran will be starting off in the lowest division, she has previous riding experience. When she was young, Cochran learned to ride western on her family’s trail horses. She also took English riding lessons after school when she lived in England. Unfortunately, Cochran’s family moved around frequently, making it difficult for her to keep up with the sport. Still, she said she is enjoying her time on the Red.
“It’s really fun, and all the girls are really nice so far,” she said.Yu also came to the team with some previous experience. She took some riding lessons in high school, but her parents were wary of the dangers of horseback riding and she was unable to continue. Yu rode with the western team her freshman year, but ultimately decided to switch back to English riding.“I want[ed] to get back to riding,” she said. “It’s hard to stay away.”Being on a varsity team means early morning practices and plenty of barn chores, as the squad is fully responsible for the care of its six horses.“I like it, I like waking up early,” Yu said. “I didn’t think I would but … I feel like the day feels so much longer and it’s nice.”Cochran is also enjoying the adjustment period.“I like learning everything … It’s cool learning all the basics of equestrian,” she said.The team is pleased with its new additions. “I think they’re a really great group of girls,” Hilton said. “They are so excited to be on the team and I think they’re going to be a great asset. … They’re going to play a good role on our team ,and they’re really going to bring us together.”Next on the agenda for the Red is a doubleheader at Alfred on Feb. 23 and 24. Normally Cornell would be hosting one of the spring semester shows, but the show was canceled due to an illness that has been spreading around Oxley Equestrian Center.“We’re just erring on the side of caution, basically,” senior tri-captain Emily Kowalchik said. “We can’t run our show without bringing in other horses … so we just don’t exactly know how [the illness] will affect bringing in other horses.”With such little time to prepare, it is unlikely that the new members of the team will be able to participate in the show at Alfred. Still, this will provide the rookies with more time to adjust to being part of the squad.“The greater part of the semester is about getting them acclimated,” Kowalchik said. “They’re coming in divisions where people are pointing out so they’re going to be able to fill in as needed.”Although the Red is usually very successful on its own turf, the team is not overly concerned about the loss of its home show. This year regionals will be held at Alfred, so the doubleheader there will give the squad more time to prepare and practice on the horses they will be riding for the competition, according to Webster.As seniors, the tri-captains are disappointed to have lost what would have been their last home show, but the fall home show provided them with a strong ending to their careers with the Red. Cornell took the lead by 15 points, just two points shy of a perfect score for the day.“It’s really upsetting, yes, but it’s nice to know that if our last home show was the show we had in November that was a great way to go out,” Kowalchik said. “I mean that was a pretty spectacular last home show for us. Even though we didn’t know it at the time, we all have positive memories from our last home show.”
“Sometimes, it’s easier not to say goodbye,” Webster said.
Original Author: Ariel Cooper