Equestrian Club Team Making Big Strides
May 11, 2012
John Boccacino/Sports Information Director
Building up a club sports team from scratch is no easy task, but the members of Keuka College’s equestrian club have recently taken several major steps forward in their quest to establish equestrian as a viable and recognizable club sports team on campus.
Last Saturday, the Storm traveled to Braebern Farm in Mendon, just outside of Rochester, to compete in a fundraiser show to benefit the Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Rochester.
Keuka had seven riders travel to Mendon for the competition, and all seven riders placed (earned a top-six finish) in their respective disciplines.
Among the highlights: sophomore Rachel Parker (Chaumont, NY/Thousand Islands) claimed the Open Western Division championship and also the Open Western Pleasure division while senior Halie Squires (Parish, NY/Mexico) was named the Hack Division Reserve champion and also won the Beginner Hunter under saddle classification.
Junior Jenna Chapman (Gorham, NY/Marcus Whitman) placed second in the Beginner Hunter over Crossrails competition while Squires was second and Chapman third in the Open Hunter under saddle classification.
Parker was second, junior Sam Swearingen (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads) placed third and freshman Alicia Fisher (Corning, NY/Corning East) was fifth in the Open Stock Seat Equitation; Fisher was second and Swearingen was fifth in the Open Western Pleasure group.
Squires was third and Chapman fifth in the Road Hack division; Squires took fourth in the Pleasure Hack and fifth in the Hunter Hack divisions; Chapman was fourth and junior Jessica Schreiner (Eden, NY/Eden) was fifth in the Beginner Hunter under saddle while Schreiner placed fourth in the Open Hunter under saddle classification.
Freshman Bridgette Fletcher (Walton, NY/Walton Central Middle/High) placed second in the Walk Trot Stock Seat Equitation and sixth in the Walk Trot Pleasure competition; while Swearingen was fifth in both the Open Cloverleaf Barrels and the Open Keyhole competitions.
On top of an already productive week, the members of the team learned on May 7 that it was officially approved as a club sport on campus.
“We really just wanted to get the experience of competing at a show, because next year we’re hoping to compete at the various collegiate shows as a club team, which will be a lot bigger than what we had on Saturday,” said Parker, who started competing in horse shows as a sixth-grader.
“The seven riders all had different levels of experience at competitions, so at this show we wanted to both gain that experience of competing at a show and let the two riders who had never shown before get a feel for the competitions. We did pretty well and I was very impressed with how well everyone did. Everybody came home having placed in at least one class.”
Chapman received her first horse riding lesson when she was just seven years old. From the moment she sat atop a 1,200-pound horse, she said she felt an exhilarating thrill as she worked diligently with the horse to accomplish her goals.
“Equestrian is a lot of fun. You’re working as an individual and you want to improve as a rider while you work with your horse to get better,” said Chapman, who trains at the Jeff Webber Training Stables located on nearby Merritt Hill Road.
“But there’s also a team component, you want everyone else to do well to represent our Keuka club team. At this past show, everyone was really supportive of one another, and there was a great sense of accomplishment. It was exciting to be a part of the first show we attended as a club.”
According to both Parker and Chapman, the most important aspect when it comes to the sport of equestrian is patience, as it takes time and countless hours in the saddle to cultivate a solid rapport with the horse.
“I really like working with my horse, I push her and she pushes me,” said Parker, who is also a setter on the Keuka women’s volleyball team.
“Sometimes my horse, she can be really lazy, but she challenges me to work harder to accomplish my goals. You have to work at communicating with the horse and you have to develop that special bond. A horse has a specific way of doing things that you need to learn, and a horse will understand how you ride and you’ll understand how the horse rides. This is a difficult sport until you can develop that bond.”
The members of the Keuka equestrian team recently learned that their hard work and dedication towards growing their sport resulted in being named the Club of the Year during the recent Honors Convocation. Combined with the successes of the first show, Chapman said the Keuka equestrian club is off and running.
“This will definitely get our name out there,” Chapman said. “There are lots of younger riders who are looking to go to college and continue riding, and they can look at us and say, ‘This is a place I want to go compete and be a part of this tradition’. At the end of our first show we did a drill team performance as the Keuka College equestrian team and it was such a cool feeling. This is a stepping stone for something better next year.”
The team plans to start back up with competitions in the fall.