By ARIEL COOPER
The equestrian team continued to plow through its competition this weekend with another doubleheader at Lehman Farm in Rochester, N.Y. The squad finished in a tie for third place Saturday and rallied to take the win Sunday.
While the team performed well on both days, the captains said that Saturday’s loss was a product of poor luck.
“It was one of those unfortunate situations when … if it was a good show pretty much everyone does well and a few people have tougher rides and it just happened that those tougher rides were our point riders,” junior co-captain Georgiana de Rham said.
Although many riders show on each day, only a few riders have their scores added into the overall team score. The highlight of Saturday’s show came when de Rham and sophomore Kaitlin Smith were awarded high point and reserve high point rider, respectively. Freshman Carlee Roberts tied with sophomore Meridith Meyer for high point rider on Sunday. Roberts ultimately received reserve high point rider after being tested by the judge. Ithaca junior Katie Hoover took high point rider. The team also swept all of the open fences classes, earning a total of 12 blue ribbons over the course of the weekend.
Despite Saturday’s low team score, moral remained high throughout the day. “Everybody was really joining forces and doing great,” head coach Todd Karn said.
The captains said that they felt good about the Red’s performance and that the riders learned from the mistakes that they made Saturday.
“Even though we had a hard day points-wise on Saturday, the spirits were not down at all,” junior co-captain Sofia Steinberger said. “I think [with] all the mistakes people made … they were individually upset with themselves but they weren’t going to let it happen again on Sunday.”
According to de Rham, the team returned more focused after Saturday’s show.
“I think people learned from their mistakes and came back more focused,” de Rham said.
The Red currently has a 21-point lead in the regionals standings, followed by Alfred and Ithaca. Alfred and Ithaca placed first and second in the region last season, according to Steinberger.
Cornell will continue its regular season shows Sunday when the team will host the region at Oxley Equestrian Center. The squad typically hosts one show each semester, but last season’s spring show was canceled due to an equine virus that spread around Oxley. Juniors Madeleine Breen and Mary Beth Hannon are responsible for organizing the preparation of the horses for the competition.
“This will be our first show operating as a team together but I think we’ve really got [everything] together,” Hannon said.
Breen and Hannon’s responsibilities include assigning team members horses to care for during the day as well as assigning horses to different classes to compete in.
“We have to make the divisions as fair as possible, so we can’t put a really good looking horse with a bunch of P.E. ponies that will keep their head in the air because the overall picture of the rider and horse will look better,” Breen said.
Hannon also emphasized the need to place horses in the right divisions according to their abilities and the needs of the division.
“Some divisions are bigger than others,” she said. “We need a lot of those mid-level horses, and we have to try and then make those classes as even as possible.”
Because the most important piece of equipment in equestrian is an animal with needs and a mind of its own, the horses are as much members of the team as the riders are.
“[The horses] work really, really hard the whole week leading up to the show to help us be ready,” Hannon said. “So we really have to make sure that we take really good care of them because they’re such an important part of our team.”
The work that Breen and Hannon do in the barn on the day of the show eases the workload for Karn and the captains.
“By running everything behind the scenes back in the barn, that lets Todd and the captains be up front doing what they need to do: actually interacting with our riders and doing the coaches that need to be done,” Hannon said.
The captains are responsible for providing moral support to the riders before each round, according to Breen, as it can be overwhelming to be surrounded by the entire team.
Historically, the Red is very successful at its home show. Last fall, the team won class after class and came away with a perfect score. Still, the familiar horses and setting can work against the riders at times, according to Steinberger.
“It can also be hard sometimes because … when you draw your horse … you’re more nervous because you know what the horse can do wrong,” she said.
The amount of rookies on the team may present a challenge this weekend, as the new riders are unfamiliar with what running an IHSA show entails. Despite this, the Red is confident that things will go smoothly.
“I think [our show] is a great example of ‘many hands make light work,’” de Rham said. “I know when I was a freshman I was very nervous about how much work the show was going to be, but since we progressively prepare for things … as long as everyone can stay [on top of] their task it goes pretty smoothly.”
Karn is confident that the team will maintain its strong regional lead throughout the season and be successful on Sunday.
“I expect that … they’ll do really well,” he said.