This year, 7 members of Lovett’s equestrian team made it to regionals, though most of you are probably just now learning of our team’s existence. Regionals took place on Sunday, February 9 at the Georgia International Horse Park. The team arrived at the showgrounds at 6:30 am and fed their horses while they watched the schooling of all the other horses. (Schooling is our fancy horse term for warming up.)
It started pouring rain that morning but luckily the ring we used was covered, so most of the horses and their riders stayed dry (for the most part). Mary Grace Samp, freshman and my fellow peer on the Lion staff, and I were the first people to ride.
Mary Grace and I both qualified for the jumping division at the two foot six inch height. Each team brings 2 or 3 horses, and we draw or “pull” their names out of a hat right before our turn to find out who we’ll be riding. Mary Grace pulled one of the crazier horses, Tally. Tally used to be a race horse, so she’s always a little quick on her feet. I pulled a big black mare named Chloe. Chloe was a great ride. She got a little quick on some parts of the course, but, overall, she was
Mary Grace earned a fifth place with a very challenging horse, and I moved on to the next level of competition called zones in Alabama. Freshman Anna Gray won her flat class, riding without jumps, on Lucy, the horse she pulled. Lucy is a very old girl, but she is the sweetest! She’s a tall, skinny black mare who knows how to do her job. Anna also advanced to zones.
Mary Collier Childress, a sophomore, pulled one of our team’s horses, UGA, for her jumping round. Sadly, she didn’t advance to the next round of competitions, but she rode really well!
Anna Marie Samp, seventh grader (and younger sister of Mary Grace), qualified for both jumping and flat rounds in regionals and won both of her classes. Anna Marie competes in the cross rails jumping and flat division. She will be advancing to zones in both classes.
Ella Anne Williams, sixth grader, competed in walk trot and pulled another one of our horses, Zan. Zan is a very slow horse, so, sadly, Ella Anne did not advance to zones. She did, however, make a valiant effort in spite of Zan slowing her down.
Finally, Victoria McClinton, seventh grader, qualified for the horsemanship test, a written test on a wide range of questions on all things horse, and got third place, an admirable feat considering how many high school students she beat while still in middle school. Unfortunately, only first and second place move on to zones, but Victoria earned an impressive score!
If the people who qualified for zones win their classes there, they will move on to nationals in LA, the final round of competition! I have high hopes for our equestrian team this year. We have a lot of people who qualified for the very competitive zones! Maybe we will have a national champion this year, but who knows.
This year zones is in Alabama, so we aren’t expecting anyone to come watch (not that anyone really has in the past), but, if you’re feeling really bored, we’d love to see you out supporting us in Alabama.
A lot of hard work goes into making these results possible, including a lot of 6AM arrivals at the horse show grounds.
Anna Gray says she definitely does not love the early mornings, but she says “it’s fun to be around the horses and have fun doing what you love.” She is also very excited about the possibility of going to LA for nationals!
Anna Marie likes the opportunity to ride so many different horses.
But for the team, the horses aren’t the only great thing. Mary Collier said she loves this team because she can be around a group of people who love the same thing she does. Anne Marie likes being able to connect with the people on the team, and values the collaboration it takes to be on the team when riding is usually an individual sport.
Still, she still got really nervous the night before the first competition!
When she got to the first show of the season, she pulled one of the crazier horses for her class that afternoon. So, while she was riding, she talked to her horse the whole time asking for a good round, and it worked! She got second place and gratefully thanked her horse.
As a long time equestrian, I know that gratitude is a wise thing to feel when you spend your life around horses. After all, it's not just the long hours that can be a challenge. As Mary Collier said, “It’s not a horse show without someone falling off.”