I’m not sure why these things always seem to happen at once, but last week and weekend were crazy with horse-y events! Immediately after we returned from spring break, we were practicing and planning and generally running around like crazy. We had the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Equestrian Championships at Bridgewater College on Wednesday, then we hosted a South West Virginia Hunter-Jumper Association (SWVHJA) open show on Saturday, and finally we hosted IHSA Zone Finals on Sunday. It was an incredibly long week; I’m still not caught up on my sleep, but we did manage to have fun as usual.
Up first was the ODAC show. This competition is totally different from the IHSA shows in which we normally compete, and I was selected to be on the Hollins team. ODAC is the athletic conference in which Hollins participates, along with other Division III schools from the area. Only six of those schools have equestrian programs, and each school sends a four-man team to compete for the championship once a year. Each rider completes two over fences rounds, receiving a score out of 100 for each. Two riders from each team compete on the flat and again receive a score out of 100. For each round, the scores are added together for each team, and the teams are ranked. At the end of the day, whichever team has the highest cumulative rank wins.
Our ODAC day began at 4:30 in the morning, when we arrived at the Hollins barn to begin preparing our horses. When everyone had been ridden, braided, and groomed to perfection, we loaded up and headed to Bridgewater. There, we schooled over the course and put the finishing touches on our horses and ourselves. I only competed in over fences, and I rode a magnificent horse named Candido Z. I hadn’t ridden Candido much before this show, but we really bonded in the week or so we had together. Our first round was a little fast and we missed a lead change, which hurt our score, but I was content with it. Our second round included a trot fence near the end of the course. Candido used to be a showjumper and is used to going as fast as possible around a course, so the idea of a trot fence was totally foreign to him. Needless to say, we did not end up trotting the trot fence, so we received fairly low scores, but the rest of our round was perfect so I was happy!
Overall, it was not Hollins’ best day. None of us on the team had competed in ODACs before, and we did not have a whole lot of time to prepare, but I think we were all happy with our rides even though our scores were not as high as we would have liked. Washington & Lee ended up winning the day, which I was very happy about; they rode very well and deserved their win. I was honored to be named the ODAC Equestrian Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and I could not be more proud of my team. For full results, go to: http://www.odaconline.com/sports/equest/2013-14/releases/040214-equest-champs.
However, our week was not over with ODACs. Friday was spent preparing our facility and our horses for SWVHJA and Zones, which meant that we had to miss Gold & Greenway Day, but it was worth it to make sure everything was perfect. I did not ride in the SWVHJA show, but I went up for most of the day and helped. After the show was over, we made sure the ring was perfect and went to bed early. Sunday saw us up at the barn at 6am, schooling horses for Zones. Competitors at Zones have qualified from their region, and the winners go on to Nationals. We had schools from all over Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland come, so we wanted everything to be perfect to show off our fantastic program.
Zones went about as well as any of us could ask. Our horses were well behaved, the ring looked great, and no one had anything bad to say (that I heard) about it. I could not be more proud of the entire Hollins riding program, especially everyone who got up early to hold horses all day. I could not have asked for a more dedicated, willing, and cheerful (despite their lack of sleep) group of women, and I think our hard work showed. Now that Zones are over, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself; it was the last show of my Hollins career, which makes me a little sad. I am definitely going to miss the craziness of hosting shows, but I will enjoy the last month or so I have in the program.