New coaches, new horses, new riders – Goucher’s highly successful Equestrian Team faces more than the usual changes for their upcoming season.
Last spring, after earning 5th place at the IHSA (the equestrian equivalent to NCAA) National Horse Show, the team’s long-time head coach Patte Zumbrun retired from the program.
After dedicating over 30 years of her life to Goucher athletics, Zumbrun was careful to leave her team with an ideal replacment. Jennifer Bunty came to Goucher in 2007 and has worked closely with Zumbrun as the team’s assistant coach. Zumbrum’s retirement brought a promotion for Bunty.
“One day she said to me: ‘I think I’m going to retire.’ I thought she was kidding, but she never really changed her mind after that. The entire time I was working here, she had prepared me incredibly well. I’m more sad than scared [of the transition], but I was also happy for her because she gave such a big chunk of her life to this place,” Bunty said.
Bunty worked in journalism before coming to Goucher. She realized she wasn’t happy with her career path and wanted to re-enter the horse world. Bunty sent her resume to dozens of schools with equestrian teams. Zumbrun responded since she was in need of a new Assistant Coach.
Zumbrun knew of Bunty’s success on her equestrian team at Lynchburg College. The two eventually worked together for seven years as Zumbrun trained her on the riding and teaching principles that have led to such a consistently effective program.
Brittany Martin, the new assistant coach, was a senior and captain of the Goucher Equestrian Team when Bunty joined the Goucher family. When Bunty joined the coaching staff, Martin was not worried. She said, “Jen believed in what Patte taught, and I felt the same way.”
As a freshman, Martin hadn’t planned on making such a huge impact on the team. She’d ridden horses all her life and wanted a break in college. But one day, she wandered down to the barn looking for lessons, and ended up graduating from Goucher as a high-point rider, and serving as captain for three of her three and a half years on the team.
Martin’s career traced a similar path to Bunty’s. She worked in finance after graduating in 2008, but wasn’t completely happy with it. She explained her choice in profession as “the job that I’d always said was my dream job, and I couldn’t not do it.” When Goucher began a national search for a new assistant coach last spring, Martin decided to apply. She had low expectations: Martin was one of over 50 applicants.
While things are still in transition, both coaches are very happy with how things have turned out. Martin said about the transition, “It’s easy – it just feels comfortable and right… One time, I found myself walking back to my dorm.”
The team’s first home show on Sunday, October 6th, went very well, with Goucher winning first place with a perfect score of 49 points.