Although campus hype and publicity for the University of Mary Washington’s varsity equestrian team runs scarce, it does not mean that the Lady Eagles are sitting on the sidelines. In fact, this year the team is exhibiting great determination and success in their competitions and training.
Two Sundays ago, on Nov. 21, the varsity riding team placed third in the University of Richmond’s Hunt show, sponsored by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association in Ashland, Va. Goucher College earned first place with 35 points, while UMW attained 30.
The show contained several standout performances from Mary Washington riders in the different competitive levels. Winners include sophomore Haley Cook in open on the flat, junior Emilia Sanchez in novice over fences, and graduate student Sarah Hagan in advanced walk-trot-canter. Additionally, senior Isabel Moore won novice flat despite it being her first experience competing in that division.
“The show at Richmond was my first time in open flat, and I was very happy with how I did,” Cook said. “The horse I rode was well behaved, and I was able to watch it in the class before me, which was very helpful. It was a fun show because a lot of our riders were moving up divisions as well.”
Along with the Richmond show, the Lady Eagles have competed in four other shows during the fall season.
“We all have ridden our best, and I think that it’s evident in our overall standing. I’m very proud to be part of such a wonderful program and great group of people,” Hagan said.
The riders contribute much of their success and motivation to their head coach, Teresa Seay.
“We have an amazing coach that is the main drive behind us,” senior captain Brittany Hill said. “She never lets us get all down and out when we don’t win. She gives us the tools we need to get better, and the next time we have a show, we are that much more prepared.”
With the conclusion of the fall semester approaching, the equestrian team is focusing on maintaining their dedication and discipline for the spring season. After their performance in Richmond, the UMW Eagles now hold an overall ranking of second place, trailing behind their main competition, Goucher College, by only three points.
The UMW equestrian team will resume action on Feb. 19-20 when they host a pair of shows at Hazelwild Farm. The riders have high hopes concerning their performances at these competitions, counting on the significance of a home field advantage.
“We have a hard working team with a bunch of great riders, so there is not much to improve upon. With this sport, a lot of times it is just luck of the draw,” Team Captain Katherine Bartkowiak said. “Hopefully with some hard work and good draws, we will win Regions and move onto Zones and then Nationals.”
Lucky horse draws or not, the varsity riding team will be a force to be reckoned with in the spring. The riders have high hopes of sending many individuals to Nationals, along with the entire team. Back in 2008 the Mary Washington equestrian team earned seventh place at Nationals. This year, the women aim to achieve an even better outcome.