March 6, 2013

EQUESTRIAN | C.U. Heads Into Post-Season Competition

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As the snow on the ground is starting to melt, giving way to early signs of spring, it is time for the equestrian team to head into its post-season competition. With its third place finish in the region after a doubleheader at Alfred last weekend, the Red lost its bid to send a team to Zones. However, 13 riders — three more than last season — qualified for regionals. Regionals is an individual competition that gives riders the opportunity to advance to Zones on their own. Head coach Todd Karn is focusing on fine-tuning the riders’ skills in order to prepare them for the competition. “We are focusing on the basics: deep, secure seat and tight legs on the flat, soft arms that follow the horse’s movement, and ‘showing’ off their skills  at show time,” he said.Karn is also working with the riders over different patterns of jumps and making sure that they do not get too comfortable with a particular horse. In a sport where the competitor must rely on a 1,500 pound animal with a mind of its own, it is important to be prepared for every possible situation.“We have set up different types of jumping configurations [from] a gymnastic to a full course of jumps,” Karn said. “We have also switched horses to represent what happens at the show.”In the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, the host school provides almost all of the horses at each show. Competitors draw a horse at random, so it is possible for a rider to draw a horse that she has never ridden before. Fortunately for the Red, regionals will be held at Alfred this year. The team has competed at Alfred three times this season and Alfred also brought some of its horses to Cornell to use in the Red’s home show last fall. As a result, the squad is well acquainted with the horses it will be riding this weekend, Karn said. “This is our fourth show at Alfred, so we have been getting familiar with the horses that the girls will ride at Regionals. We will be prepared the best we can,” Karn said. Still, horses can be very unpredictable. With the doubleheader and now regionals, the Alfred horses have been working very hard recently, and there is no telling how they will be this weekend.“Now that I’m a sophomore and I’ve been around these horses for [about] a year now, I’m more aware of them and what they’re like, which is definitely helpful. At the same time, horses are kind of like humans, so they’re a little bit different every day,” sophomore Georgiana de Rham said. De Rham was one of two Cornell riders to make it all the way to nationals last season. She competed in intermediate fences and finished in fifth place. De Rham will be riding in intermediate flat and open fences at regionals. The competition will be tough, but de Rham is determined not to let the pressure get to her. “I just want to go into the weekend and draw my horses and ride [well and be] relaxed and fluid on the horses,” she said. “That’s my goal. I just want to go do my thing, and I don’t want to get wrapped up in thinking about the fact that it’s regionals or the fact that I’m competing against the strongest riders in each division.” Sophomore Renee Botelho will be competing at regionals for the first time and will be riding in the walk-trot-canter division. “There is both a beginner and advanced walk-trot-canter division in the regular season shows, butyou need to point out of both divisions in order to show in walk-trot-canter at regionals,” she said. “I’m just really excited to be here. You learn quickly in IHSA showing that you can’t often control most things … You just have to roll with the punches and enjoy the experience,” Botelho said. “I am really happy to be showing, and will do what I canadvance to Zones.”Because the horse — an unpredictable animal — is the most important piece of equipment in this sport, a rider’s success depends on “the luck of the draw,”“As far as advancing, any of the girls could do it in their respective division,” Karn said. “A lot depends on how they handle the horse they draw. It is like any sport, some luck is involved.”Although the Red will not be competing as a team this weekend, the squad continues to be supportive of each other.  “I want everyone to go and be able to really ride as well as they can,” de Rham said. “I would love to see as many people to make it to Zones as possible. So many of the girls that I’ve been riding with made such improvements this year, and I’d really like to see the work they’ve put in pay off.”Even though there is much at stake for the Red, sometimes it is better to just enjoy the ride. “I hope for myself that I enjoy the show and do my best …  I hope the team comes together and shows the region the CUET spirit we have,” Botelho said. “Overall, I’m just hoping for a positive and successful weekend, with the team backing every rider in the ring.”

Original Author: Ariel Cooper