By CHRIS MARKHAM
One of the more overlooked varsity sports at the University of Mary Washington, varsity riding, is well underway in their 2013-2014 season. The team competed in two competitions thus far in their season and fared well in both.
“Our season is off to a great start,” said UMW head riding coach Teresa Seay.
The first competition was the Tournament of Champions on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Randolph-Macon College.
An experienced and well-groomed senior group led the way for the Eagles at the September competition. Seniors Cori Frederickson and Molly Branfield both finished high in their respective fields. Frederickson took first in the open over fences class, while Branfield earned fourth in the flat class.
Also gaining top spots were Morgan Brown, who took fourth in the intermediate over fences category, and sophomore Kimberly Counts, who came in third in the medal class.
The Eagles’ most successful event so far this season was their recent first place tie with Virginia Commonwealth University at the Richmond Show on Saturday, Sept. 28. Five UMW competitors won first place finishes in their respective events.
Brandfield came out victorious in the flat class, en route to becoming the event’s high-point rider, and sophomore Emily Dunn was first in her novice over fences class while being reserve high-point rider. Other top place finishers for UMW included Counts, Thomas Odum, and Michelle Lee.
It is due to the Eagles’ depth at the different levels of competition that make them successful in competition, according to Seay. “All levels of riders are necessary for the team,” she said.
This year’s schedule consists of eight regular season shows, which have about seven schools at each show.
The season also includes a postseason where the team or individuals compete in regional zone competitions or at Nationals. These postseason shows take place during May, making riding at UMW a year-round sport.
A future highlight show of the Eagles’ season is the Mary Washington Show, coming up on Feb. 15 and 16.
The team prepares well for each competition, according to Seay.
“We practice having control of the horse and having good equitation while doing it,” said Seay. “The goal is to have complete control and look effortless while doing it.”
The Eagles will next display that poise and control on Sunday, Oct. 6 when they take their show on the road and compete in the VCU show in Richmond.