Club riding team successful in competition, enjoys team bonding during February trip to Houston

Trinity is home to 13 club teams, including the equestrian team. The sport is one of the oldest clubs at the university and continues to proudly represent the Tigers. On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 and 12, the team competed in an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) horse show at Rice University. Sophomore Erin McGee placed first in Intermediate Fences and sophomores Erica LaRochelle and Simone Garcia placed first and second respectively in the Walk-Trot Equitation.

“I love being a part of the team, it’s pretty cool because it’s the only time in my life that I will get to compete on a team in this sport that I love so much — unless I go to the Olympics or something and those odds are pretty slim,” said junior Chelsea Runacres, the team’s captain. “It’s nice being on a club team too, because we take it seriously and work to be our best, but if you have a tough week in school that’s okay because we all understand that academics always come first.”

The co-ed organization consists of 10 women, all of which either competed before coming to school or enjoyed horses and wanted to try something new. They practice throughout the week at their head coach Stephanie Cook’s stables in Bulverde, north of San Antonio. They compete throughout the year at different universities all around Texas and Louisiana.

“My favorite part of the show is being with the team,” Garcia said. “We practice on separate days, so it’s the only time we’re together. I love watching (the team) compete.”

IHSA events are two days and consist of different events for different levels of riders. Each rider will compete for individual points along with team points. More than one rider from each school is allowed to compete in an event but only one can count towards the team total. That person must be chosen before the event starts. What makes the horse shows interesting and keeps the riders on their toes is that they will not know what horse they ride until the day of the event. Each rider will draw a name of a horse and the first time they get to ride it is when they are walking into the arena to get judged.The judges look at the overall style of the rider and how well they performed during each event. Each judge judges differently so the riders may never know what is to be expected.

“Horse riding is about trying to make it look like you’re just sitting in the saddle doing nothing, when in reality, you’re giving your horse a lot of little signals to get them to go straight or jump,” McGee said. “In practice we work on all these little things, so we can feel confident when we go to shows and have to ride a horse we’ve never ridden before.”

In order to compete in the second day, you must qualify for regionals. Throughout the season, each rider will cumulate points. Once a rider receives 26 points, they have qualified for regionals. The top two riders for each event at regionals will then move on to zones and the top two of zones will move on to nationals. McGee and Runacres qualified for regionals and will be competing on the second day of their next show.