Hi everyone!!

Long time no blog! My life has been crazy lately and the library mainly consumes my time. Amongst all the schoolwork and social time, the team has been through so many exciting changes! Because it’s been such a long time, I’m going to try to give a short overview of the last few months (hope you can keep up!)

Our final show of last year was at College of Charleston on November 21st! The craziest thing was that this show was my FIRST and LAST show of the fall season!! My injury a few months ago restricted me from riding and set me too far behind in lessons to be able to show. Even though I still couldn’t compete, once I recovered I was able to go to our Clemson show in the beginning of November, to help school the horses early in the morning. I knew I couldn’t show but that that didn’t mean I couldn’t still support my teammates!

The CofC show was a blast and if I’ve learned anything about showing in IHSA it’s that you just have to try your best and go into the ring with no expectations. If you psych yourself out (which many of us often do) and overthink what you’re doing, you will forget how to do the things that come naturally to you as a rider. My coach gave me this exact advice at the show and I felt completely calm, putting my faith in what I know and trying my best to show it. And who knew, I won my novice fences class out of 15!! I was so excited and honestly surprised to see that I still had some of my winning fire in me. It had been forever since I showed!

Earlier this year we voted on our new officers for the team, meaning our positions for president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and public relations. I'm happy to announce that my sorority “Big”, Haley Steffens, has been named President and so far she’s done an incredible job. Vice President is junior Kinsey Peterson, Secretary is freshman Charissa Lenis, Treasurer is freshman Emily Tuten, and PR is sophomore Anna Kunz. Here are a few pictures from our recent photo shoot! We are revamping our look and have really proven ourselves out in the ring this past season.

Girls at show

We opened the winter season in February with a horse show at Georgia Southern University where the team had some awesome placing’s and we were happy to come out tied for 3rd place out of 11 other teams! Of course with my luck, I drew two ponies of whom I was actually quite excited to ride, until I had mounted them. I placed 5th on both my Novice flat and over fences, which was due to some difficulty controlling the pony on the flat and not really taking my time and thinking about my position in my over fences class. Nonetheless, each of our riders showed amazing poise and confidence in the saddle.

On to the next show held at Lander University, the team had some rough patches and few areas of needed improvement revealed themselves. I will be honest, my over fences class was a disaster. Coming out of the ring and feeling that awful frustration is the worst, but from that comes a determination to work harder to be better at the next horse show. How can you learn if every trip or every flat class is perfect? You can’t! You win some, you lose some and what’s most important to keep in mind is to think about what you can gain from those losses. I learned that not only do I need to continue to work on strengthening my heels, but also I need to try not to ride with my upper body ahead of me when jumping. This is something I’ve struggled with for a while and when it comes to showing can become a little more prevalent especially if I have a slow horse…This horse show wasn’t the best but it keeps me wanting to work harder! In better news, we had one of our riders, Sara Stuart qualify for Regionals by placing first in her Novice over fences class and pointing out! For those of you unfamiliar with the IHSA rules, in order to qualify for Regionals in hopes of eventually making it to Zones and then Nationals, you have to point out of your class. You must accumulate a total of 36 points in order to “point out”. These points carry over each year and are added up from your placing’s.

cawood jump

Sadly, our last horse show of the season was March 4th at College of Charleston. This horse show has always been one of my favorites. The ring and grounds are always beautifully maintained, the show is efficient and well run, and the horses are incredible. On top of that, I’ve had pretty good luck at the shows held here  I was so pleased with my draws, both horses I hadn’t heard of, which made me actually feel a little less nervous. The over fences course was a blast. It was full of bending lines and rollbacks, which gave me flashbacks to my younger days doing the pony medal. For the thousandth time I drew a pony, named Quince. His eagerness to get in the ring made me feel confident and excited. This horse and I were on the same wavelength. I went into the ring and laid down an awesome course that left me with a smile on my face for the rest of the day. I’m proud to say that I placed 3rd out of 16 other riders in the class. Regardless of the placing I was happy with how I rode. On to the flat class I drew this sweet baby-faced horse named Marty who had the most comfortable canter EVER. To my surprise, I placed 2nd and better yet, got to receive my ribbon from Bob Cacchione (founder of ISHA). It was an amazing day and to top it off, we placed 3rd overall for the day, were awarded 6th place in the region and had one of our very special seniors, Charlotte Levering, qualify for Regionals at the last show! Regionals were held the following day at the CofC show grounds.

girl group

Regionals started bright and early with 4 of our qualified riders, the first time in FUET history! Senior Rachel Keith in Intermediate Fences, senior Charlotte Levering in Walk Trot Canter, sophomore Sara Stuart in Novice Fences and Intermediate Flat, and sophomore Hope Roberson in Walk Trot. I'm so proud of our riders for working hard and seeing their work pay off. I hope that sometime in the near future I’ll be able to qualify! Although I couldn’t attend, I was experiencing the excitement through our team’s GroupMe conversation with live updates. For clarity: in IHSA Regionals, you have to place 1st or 2nd to advance to Zones. Rachel placed 3rd, Charlotte placed 7th (out of 16!!), Sara placed 3rd in the Intermediate Flat, and Hope placed 4th! The team did an outstanding job and really brought their “A game”. Now that the show season is over, the team continues to lesson weekly and we look forward to preparing for the fall by riding as much as we can this summer! None of this success would be possible without the help of our amazing trainers. Thank you!

 cacchione pic

Senior Rachel Keith with Bob Cacchione

I hope you were able to keep up with this crazy amount of updates! As for me, my summer plans are still not set in stone, but I’m hoping that wherever I am I will be able to get in some good riding!

As always, happy riding!!