Sorry I have not written lately, but boy do I have a lot to share!
Two weekends ago, the hunt seat team hosted a show at the Albion College Equestrian Center. It was our last regular meet of the season and 12 teams came to ride our horses. Needless to say, there was a ton of work to do to get ready for it. (I should probably also mention that it was below zero all week leading up to the meet so you can imagine that the horses had a lot of energy.) But after a long week of schooling and preparing, we were ready!
The show ran perfectly and (most of) the horses were fabulous – even Bailey was used and behaved like a star! (It didn’t hurt that by show day it was up to 35 degrees.) In the end, the Albion team ended up winning high point team for the day. One of our intermediate-level riders, Miranda Voege, was even high point individual and – as if that wasn’t enough – two of our other riders, Arielle Smith and Brittany Stanton, rode off against each other and one other girl for reserve high point rider! So all in all, we definitely used of our home-court advantage and, by the end of the day (which was also the end of the regular season), we had 10 riders qualified for regionals!
…which brings us to this past weekend – REGIONALS!
For those not familiar with the IHSA format, the regional show is the competition you qualify for when you accumulate enough points, which are based on your placings at meets throughout the season. When you compete at Regionals, you must either place first or second in order to move on to Zones; Zones is a much larger competition and involves all the best riders from the regions that make up a particular zone.
And after Zones, of course, is NATIONALS!
As I mentioned earlier, we had 11 individual riders qualified for Regionals, which was more than all of the other teams in our region – including Michigan State University, which had 10. (Go Albion!) The day started out very well when Brittany Stanton won her open over fences class to qualify for Zones! That ride set the bar pretty high, so when it came time for my class, I was extremely nervous.
There were 11 people in my class and one of them was Miranda Voege, my teammate from Albion. My nerves were calmed slightly, however, when I drew the horse I was going to ride: Joey, a well-known schoolmaster. (One girl even saw that I got him and said “Awww – lucky!” )
So, with my newfound confidence, I mounted my horse and entered the ring. The first section of the class was your basic walk, trot, sitting trot, and canter. After that, the judge asked for her top seven to remain in the ring for testing. At this time, the announcer told us that we could now cross our stirrup irons and it was on. (Miranda and I just looked at each other, knowing that we could rock this section after George’s endless stirrup-less torture in practice.)
From here, we did the entire class again, only this time without stirrups. The whole class ended up being about 20 minutes long and I’m not exaggerating when I say that stirrup-less posting accounted for a large section of those 20 minutes. When the announcer finally said we could line up, we all took a breath of relief since, by that point we were all tired, sore, and sweating. The anticipation continued to build as we all stood there, waiting to hear the results. They started at the bottom of the order by announcing seventh place and, after they announced the fourth place finisher, Miranda, myself, and one other girl were still waiting in the center of the ring – which meant that at least one Albion rider had qualified!
Finally they got to third place, which went to Miranda, and I came in second – which means that I’m going to Zones!
By the end of the day, an amazing four out of our 10 riders had qualified to go on to Zones: Brittany Stanton (open over fences), Emilie Taylor (Walk, Trot, Canter), Emily Thomson (Walk, Trot), and me (intermediate flat)! Zones are going to be held in Ohio on April 9th, so you can expect to hear the full story upon my return.
Wish us luck – and hopefully some of us will make it on the Nationals!