February is always a hectic month for the Hollins riding team as we try to fit all of the spring IHSA show season into a few short weeks. This year was no exception; in fact, it was possibly even busier. Some of us had been on campus for J-term, riding and keeping the horses in shape, but we started practicing in earnest as soon as classes started. Our IHSA season started immediately after the semester began, with shows at Randolph College and Sweet Briar College the first weekend of the semester. Bridgewater College was supposed to host a show the second weekend of the semester, but the massive snowstorm that hit us around Valentine’s Day caused it to be postponed.
The Bridgewater show was rescheduled for the third weekend in February. However, there were already two shows scheduled for that weekend, so we had a fun, but exhausting, three-show weekend. Bridgewater was on Friday afternoon, Hollins hosted a show on Saturday, and the University of Virginia hosted a regular season show as well as regional finals on Sunday. Having a show the day before we hosted our own show was a little stressful, because it left fewer people to help prep the horses for our show, but the riding club really stepped up to ride and bathe horses and clean tack. Our show went off without a hitch and it was even warm and sunny out! At the end of the day, we were all pretty tired, but we did laundry, went to bed early, and woke up even earlier to head to Charlottesville the next day. Three of us, myself included, had qualified for regional finals and I know I was nervous! In the end, I was happy with my ride, but I did not place highly enough to move on to zone finals. While I am sad that my IHSA career is over, I could not have had a better experience with better people. I felt like our team really bonded this season, and we always managed to have a lot of fun at shows no matter what the results were.
Luckily, the fun was not over! Last weekend, Hollins hosted the first annual Hollins Spring Welcome, a nationally rated horse show at the Virginia Horse Center. It was spread out over four days in four rings, with hundreds of horses and riders competing. I did not ride, but I went up and helped on Saturday and Sunday. I presented ribbons in the Reel arena, which hosted the pony hunters (among other classes). It was a little chilly, but I loved watching the ponies go! The highlight of the weekend, however, was the Collegiate Cup on Saturday night. Schools put up three-man teams to ride against each other over fences and on the flat in three divisions. Virginia Intermont College, the previous host of the show, had dominated the competition for the last few years, but Hollins emerged victorious this year, with our teams earning first and third places. One of our riders also earned the highest point total overall! It was a wonderful way to kick off what will hopefully be a long and successful tradition.