On a freezing Saturday morning at 5:15 a.m., the equestrian team members’ alarms went off and they began to
prepare themselves for the third and final leg of the Tournament of Champions series, called the Winter Classic. The Jan. 25 Classic started at 9 a.m. and was hosted by the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. During the rest of the year, schools compete against one other in various shows in order to go to the Tournament of Champions. A school must be in the top two of its region to be invited to the Tournament. Mount Holyoke, Randolph College, Savannah College of Art and Design, Virginia Tech, St. Andrews, and Boston University were some of the other schools also invited to the Tournament. The Tournament of Champions has three parts, but only takes a team’s best two out of three finishes to achieve the final result. According to Anna Carmichael, a sophomore equestrian team member, “Everyone rode really well, the biggest standout was freshman, Sarah Lummis, who won her advanced walk trot canter class.”
Before the show, the team got a pep talk from their coaches, Director Jen Bunty and Assistant Director Brittany Martin, trying to keep everything they needed to remember in their minds. For an equestrian, it is not enough to just ride the horse: he or she needs to remember that the judges will be looking for more than just skill. Judges like to see a rider who is also well put together and looks effortless on a horse. Riders are not allowed to slouch; shoulders must be rolled back at all times, their arms cannot rest on the horse’s neck, but should not be too high above it either, and their heels must be pointed down and toes pointed forward. After the pep talk, the various team members who were jumping were allowed to walk the jump course to better remember it and to drill into their brains everything they needed to know during their performances. Each individual works out every little piece of their course in their head: where they will turn and how many horse steps it is to each jump, so there will be no surprises when they actually mount the horses. Of course not everything always goes as planned, but doing this increases the rider’s chance of remembering what they need to do. In the end, Goucher’s equestrian team finished fourth in the Winter Classic, which ultimately helped them achieve an overall result of fifth for the entire tournament: the best finish in the program’s history.The team’s next show is a regional IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) show at the University of Maryland on February 23rd. Since the victory of the Winter Classic, the Goucher team is looking forward to competing at the University of Maryland and hopefully lengthening their regional lead as much as they can.