The equestrian team is wrapping up its season at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national competition in Harrisburg, P.A. The final competition is a three-day affair, taking place between Thursday and Sunday. Although the Red only has one rider qualified to compete — freshman Meridith Meyer — the team will also send three additional members and one horse to help out at the show.
“Last year I came down specifically to help take care of our horses, but this year, [sophomore] Sofia [Steinberger] and I are here as official IHSA volunteers,” sophomore Mary Beth Hannon said. Hannon will be voIunteering alongside Steinberger and senior tri-captain Emily Kowalchik. “I think we will be helping with setting the jump courses and [be] ringside to do whatever tasks are needed throughout the day,” she added.
Since nationals is not hosted by one specific school, all of the schools in the venue’s zone contribute horses to the competition. Eighteen schools will be bringing horses this year, according to Kowalchik. This year, nationals will take place in Cornell’s zone. When it came to choosing a horse to bring to the show, the team looked for one who would be able to handle the overwhelming event.
“We try to bring the most reliable horses,” senior tri-captain Emily Webster said.
“This is the biggest venue [nationals has] been in in a long time which can be kind of spooky,” Kowalchik said.
Luckily, Fern, one of the Red’s newer horses, seems to be up to the task.
“Fern thrives under work, so it’ll actually be good to have him work for a whole week,” Kowalchik said.
After a strong first season on the team, Meyer is heading to nationals to compete in the open flat division. Meyer was Ivy League reserve champion in both open flat and fences and also placed second in the Cacchione Cup and individual season-long competition between the open riders in each region. Bronwyn Scrivens ‘12 won the Cacchione Cup last season and went on to be the first Cornell rider to compete in the Cacchione class at nationals. Meyer feels well prepared for the competition and is looking forward to the experience.
“I want to be relaxed as I go into the arena … because at that point, I’ve done everything I can to prepare,” she said. “I also just want to have fun. It is an awesome experience to even make it to nationals; I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”
This will be head coach Todd Karn’s first trip to nationals, as well as Meyer’s. Karn is a seasoned competitor, trainer, and horse show judge, so the squad predicts that he will take the competition in stride.
“[Coach Karn is] really good at not getting fazed by the horse show and sticking with the basics and staying focused regardless of what’s around [him],” Webster said. “I don’t think it’ll be that different from any other show because he always expects the best from us whether we’re at practice or we’re at nationals.”
The Red competes in the toughest IHSA zone in the nation, according to Kowalchik. Skidmore and St. Lawrence usually dominate the competition in Cornell’s zone, and both schools will be sending teams to nationals. Last year, Skidmore was the first place team at nationals and St. Lawrence came in second. Meyers’ victory at zones proves that she has the ability to stand out amongst these tough competitors.
“I just hope to gain the experience of competing at nationals because [the opportunity] may never come again,” she said. “Hopefully, this experience will help me become a better competitor throughout the next three years on the team.”
Original Author: Ariel Cooper