Equestrian out of the gates with two second-place finishes

by Elizabeth Bissell | 10/13/05 5:00am

Dartmouth equestrian kicked off its regular season with back-to-back second place finishes Oct. 8 and 9 at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College, respectively. Dartmouth finished behind Vermont by a margin of one point at Vermont's home show and seven at Middlebury. Eight schools competed at each show.

Individual riders also garnered success. At Vermont, Tim Malone '07 and Kate Wooler '08 each received a first and second place finish, qualifying them to compete in a tie-breaking class to determine the reserve high point rider. However, according to team manager Elyssa Gelmann '06, because the Vermont team did not want to wear down the school's horses the coaches collectively decided that the award would be given to both riders.

At Middlebury, the tie-breaking reserve high point class was held and won by Daisy Freund '08.

"Overall I thought my performance was fine but could have easily been improved on. I'm in the usual position of feeling stronger over fences than on the flat and this weekend reflected that, so I need to spend some extra time fixing my flatwork at home," said Freund.

Individual performances both days complemented the team's success. At Vermont, blue ribbon winners included Freund in Open Fences, Malone in Open Fences, Gelmann in intermediate flat, Katherine Scovner '08 in novice fences, Wooler in novice fences and Janelle Moerlein '06 in novice flat. Second place finishers were Malone in Open Flat, Abby Donahue '06 in intermediate fences, Taylor Smith '06 in intermediate fences, Wooler '08 in intermediate flat, Lauren Pfisterer '06 in walk/trot/canter and Jeff Brown '05 in walk trot. Thirds went to Freund in open flat, Gelmann in intermediate fences, Tami Martin '08 in novice fences and Jeanie Lau '08 in walk/trot/canter.

At Middlebury, winners were Freund in open fences, Malone in open flat, Wooler in novice fences and Jane Park '06 in walk trot. Second place went to Freund in open flat, Gelmann in intermediate fences, Moerlein in novice fences, Karelle Hall '08 in walk/trot/canter and Brown in walk trot. Third place finishers included Scovner in novice flat, Amanda Watson '09 in novice flat, Lau in walk/trot/canter and Rachel LaRocca '09 in walk/trot/canter.

"Dartmouth put in a great performance on Saturday at UVM. We were only one point behind the host school, our best finish ever at the UVM show. The Middlebury show was more of a struggle but the team rode hard and finished as reserve high point college," said coach Sally Batton.

Sunday's show was the first intercollegiate competition for four of the team's new riders, including three freshmen.

"Learning how to show for the IHSA [Intercollegiate Horse Show Association] is not easy and our new riders did a great job jumping right into it," Gelmann said.

"Showing on the other school's horses might be a dramatic change for those who have experience with equestrian competition, as it shifts the judge's focus from the horse-rider pair to specifically the rider and what he or she does with any given mount," said Alanna Purdy '09, who competed in walk/trot/canter on Sunday.

Several riders capped off the weekend by winning enough points to move up to higher divisions; Moerlein pointed up to intermediate flat and Pfisterer to novice flat. On Sunday, Wooler earned enough points to class up to both open flat and intermediate fences.

"I'm surprised that I pointed up already this season, and I'm expecting the new divisions to be a lot harder, but I'm pretty excited about the challenge," said Wooler.

Last year Dartmouth had its most successful season ever, finishing first in the region and earning a spot at the Zones Competition. Freund also went on to compete at Nationals individually. Heading into the third competition of the season at Colby Sawyer Oct. 15, Dartmouth stands second behind Vermont in the 13-team region.

"The biggest challenge the team will face this year will be the depth of the UVM team. They are a club sport and have a large roster that enables them to have a large pool from which to draw their best riders," said Batton. "After two shows we are eight points behind UVM. However, I feel we will come on strong in the five shows to come and will finish the fall season in first place."