Equestrian team rides swiftly at New England Classic
Dartmouth equestrian's two eight-person teams placed fourth and eighth out of 14 teams at Saturday's New England Classic held at Dartmouth's Morton Farm. Mount Holyoke's two teams placed first and second at the show.
The New England Classic is a highly competitive post-season show for the team, as 15 riders are placed out in each level making it very difficult to get in the top five. Despite this, several riders had very strong performances. Tim Malone '07 drew good horses and rode strongly for Dartmouth, placing first in open fences and second in open flat, both out of 14 riders.
"D.J. and Chevy are both just really nice, consistent horses, which allowed me to concentrate on my position and having a nice, soft ride," said Malone. "I tried riding with a longer stirrup for my flat class to stretch my leg down longer, because I have a tendency to get my leg scrunched up."
While the fences classes were simply placed after one fences round, the flat classes involved two initial heats, followed by a championship class with the top six riders from both heats. Six Dartmouth riders made it to championship class. Co-captains Janelle Moerlein '06 and Abby Donahue '06 placed second in novice flat and third in open flat, respectively.
"Although my fences round went horribly, I was really happy with my flat performance," said Moerlein. "I drew a really tough horse, and luckily the judge was able to see past his pinned ears and occasional kicks at the wall to put me in the championship round."
In Moerlein's championship class ride, the 5'9" rider drew the shortest pony in the barn. Ironically, Donahue, standing at 4'10," drew the tallest horse in the barn for her championship ride. Both excelled, despite drawing less than ideal horses for their respective heights.
Moerlein added, "Once again, the judge was able to look past my way too short stirrups (I was riding like Red Pollard) and see the raw talent that was obviously there, placing me as reserve champion."
Tina Guitierrez '05 and Mitzi Huang '05 took home fourth and fifth place finishes in the walk/trot/canter division. Taylor Smith '06 won fifth in intermediate fences and Tami Martin '08 took fourth in intermediate flat.
The New England Classic marks the end to one of the equestrian team's most successful seasons in the last decade. Dartmouth won their region for the first time under coach Sally Batton advancing to Zones competition as a team. Dartmouth also showed strongly in post-season All-Ivy competition, placing second after Brown.
Malone said, "It's sad knowing this is the last show of the season, but I think both the team and especially all our horses need a break from all the hard work they've put in."
The team will be losing four seniors, but the bulk of the team will return next year. It is also looking forward to new riders joining the team in the fall.
"Although it will be tough losing the seniors next year, I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of riders the Class of 2009 will bring," said Moerlein. "We had some awesome freshman this year, so it will be fun to see who the next year brings."
Although the team's season is over, Daisy Freund '08, who excelled during the regular season by winning overall high point open rider, will be competing at Nationals in Ohio on May 5 and 6.
Moerlein said, "Daisy is a beautiful rider who is able to ride just about any horse she draws. The riders at Nationals are the best in the nation, so it will be interesting to see how she stacks up against them, but I think she will do really well."