The Wellesley equestrian team placed fifth in Sunday’s show hosted by Bentley University at Volo Farm in Westford, MA. The show was the first of five equestrian shows that the team competes in as part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and just six points separated Wellesley from first place Tufts. The show consisted of several different events — open flat, open jumping, intermediate flat, intermediate jumping, novice flat, novice jumping, walk trot canter and walk trot. The team prepares for shows at five a.m. and does not finish until three or four in the afternoon.
“Something that I think makes our team particularly great is that the whole team comes to each show whether they are riding in it or not. It’s a great opportunity for newer riders or riders who have never seen the show ring to ask questions and see what it’s all about. It’s especially nice to have the whole team there to support members who are competing,” Paulina Sterpe ’15 said.
The Wellesley equestrian team has off-campus lessons at least once a week at the Rising Star Equestrian Center in Medway, MA, where smaller groups train at different times to accommodate each member’s schedule. Members also complete two additional workouts and one team workout each week to maintain their conditioning and readiness for shows.
Coaches Alli Mitchell and Sheryl Miller help team members refine their skills and focus on areas that are judged particularly harshly at shows. The team practices its form in classes on the flat and over jump courses. Practices are tailored to each upcoming show as, for example, some judges at particular shows look for a lighter seat while others look for a firm hand or leg. There is also a lot of preparation that happens during shows.
“It’s always very busy for those competing in the show. Riders are up and about holding horses, getting other riders mounted on the horses and competing,” Madison Morgensai ’18 said.
The Wellesley equestrian team started off the fall semester on a high note, winning High Point Team at its first show of the season. The team has made progress since last semester and welcomes two new members to the team this spring.
“The most memorable moment for the team so far was our first win last semester. It was pretty awesome and we did so well. We came out with flying colors,” Morgensai said. At shows, team members compete for individual points and for team points.
Outside of riding lessons, members hang out together for meals, social events and other activities.
“Relatively, I’ve been on the team for a short amount of time, so it is exciting and pretty fortunate how quickly the members became some of my best friends at Wellesley. There is always someone I can ask to get a meal, have a study party, go to the gym or watch a children’s movie about horses with. It’s a plus that they also don’t mind barn smell,” Sterpe said.
Morgensai echoed Sterpe’s sentiment and mentioned how everybody on the team is approachable and willing to help one another even in non-equestrian related matters. Callan Roberts ’15, president of the team, noted how even after graduating, the alumnae from the team continue to support Wellesley equestrian and maintain their friendships with each other.
“Our team community is very tight knit. We spend so much time together at and away from the barn. You end up finding friends who are literally and figuratively always there for you,” Captain Sam Goldstein ’16 said.
Equestrian is a challenging sport as the team has to take precautions with the possibility of injuries during shows and practices. Falling off the horse, which may lead to disqualifications and point deductions in competitions, can be very harmful and dangerous.
This week, Wellesley equestrian will prepare to compete in its first home show of the season. Wellesley hosts one student-run competition each year at Rising Star. This year, Wellesley will co-host its home show with Bridgewater State University.
“Right now, the team is looking forward to hosting our home horse show this Sunday the 8th! There’s a lot of work that goes into making the day run smoothly and we are all-hands-on-deck this week and this weekend.” Sterpe said.
Beyond this weekend, the team looks forward to an exciting season as Sterpe and several other team members will be competing at regionals over spring break. Many members have also placed out of their current division and anticipate the challenge of competing at the next level.
Photo courtesy of Hannah Harris ’15
Ivy Jiang ’18 is the Sports & Wellness Assistant Editor who is majoring in Economics. When she is not studying, she is probably following the NBA, reading, watching emotional films, eating or leisurely exercising. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com.