While everyone else was powering through the last week of classes and gearing up for Slope Day, a few members of the equestrian team traveled to Harrisburg, Pa. for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s national competition.
Freshman Meridith Meyer competed in the open flat division, while sophomores Sofia Steinberger and Mary Beth Hannon and senior tri-captain Emily Kowalchik went as volunteers. New equine member Fern also headed to Harrisburg to be part of the competition.
This was both Fern’s and head coach Todd Karn’s first trip to IHSA nationals. Karn, a seasoned competitor and judge himself, was impressed with the competition.
“I thought it was very competitive and it was well attended,” he said. “Some of the best riders in the country in college riding were there.”
Fern was completely unfazed by the large scale show and took everything in stride.
“Fern did a great job,” Karn said. “The committee down there watched him with a little bit of skepticism because he had never done it before and each day he proved himself to be a star and he actually was used at the top level … and he placed in most every class quite high.”
Many horses can get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of a large competition like nationals, so it is important to choose the right horses to participate. Since horses are unpredictable by nature, there was no real way to tell how Fern would handle the show.
“[Fern is] new to our team this year and hasn’t been to nationals before, so there was a degree of uncertainty going into the week as to whether or not he would behave, whether or not the horse selection committee would like him, whether or not he would get to go in the higher level classes, etc,” Hannon said. “Once he settled in, he was a complete superstar. The committee loved him, as did every rider who drew him throughout the week. He ended up going in almost all of the cacchione and open classes, so it was an honor for our program that he was so successful as well.”
Meyer was equally successful at nationals, coming out reserve champion in her division. Just experiencing this competition as a freshman was a big accomplishment for Meyer.
“In my experience as a college equestrian, this is most definitely the largest and most important competition I’ve been to, and will ever go to,” she said. “The experience was really wonderful, and I am excited that I got to experience it as a freshman.”
Although the Red did not travel to or compete at nationals as a team, Meyer still had the support of her teammates as she headed into the competition. Hannon, who had volunteered at nationals last year, was able to give Meyer some insight on the show.
“Since I had previously attended nationals, I told her a lot about how nice all the horses would be on our drive down,” Hannon said. “With some shows we have to worry about the possibility of getting a bad draw, but at the national championships the horses must go through a rigorous selection process and are then assigned to classes by a committee. Beyond that, I told her that there was really no pressure anyway since she’s only a freshman. She still has 3 more years to do her thing and with the way she’s ridden this season it’s quite evident that she’s going to continue to improve and shine in the arena of collegiate riding.”
Karn also has high hopes for Meyer after seeing her performance on May 2.
“I thought she rode beautifully and she stayed very cool under the pressure, and I think in the future she has a real chance at winning the whole thing,” he said.
Meyer’s successful rookie season is only the beginning of what will hopefully be a very successful career with the Red.
“I am really excited about my progress this year, and can’t wait for the years to come,” she said. “This year was really just a learning experience for me, and I couldn’t have done any of it without my teammates. They are the best thing about being on the team at Cornell. I am just proud to be part of such a wonderful, horse loving, family.”
Original Author: Ariel Cooper