Equestrian Fall Season Underway

BY Christian Rodriguez

Senior Staff Writer

The Sacred Heart University equestrian team began their season on Oct. 13, with a Western Doubleheader at their home barn in Southbury, Conn. They won seven events and were the High Point team in both competitions.

“The first show we won by 7 points and the second one by 8,” said senior team captain Cariann Johnson. “This set the Western team 15 points ahead from all other schools in our region.”

The next day on Oct. 14, the team finished their weekend with a second straight High Point title in a Hunt Seat competition at Trinity College.

According to the Sacred Heart athletics website, the team swept two fences sections. This propelled them to capturing both the Show Open Fences sections and the Intermediate Fences section. Six Pioneers also took first place in individual awards.

Johnson stood out placing first in the Show Class 1 Open Fences Section A and in the Class 9 Open Flat Section B. This earned her the High Point rider and team MVP.

“Going into the competition, we focused on going in with confidence so that the judge would have a good impression,” said Johnson. “We also focused on paying attention to detail. We wanted to know the basics well so that we can focus on perfecting our performances.”

Another first place rider at the Hunt Seat competition was junior rider Gabriella Sorrentino, who finished first in the Show Class 2 Open Fences Section B.

“We hit the ground running and began by sweeping the first two divisions of the day winning four 1st place ribbons,” said Sorrentino. “Cariann and I in the Open Over Fences and Emery Smith and Carly Julius in the Intermediate Open Fences.”

With the equestrian season running all the way until May, there are certain goals and expectations for the riders in this season.

“I hope we continue our focus, consistency, and teamwork throughout the season. I believe these three things will lead to our team’s success for the rest of the year,” said Sorrentino. “Our Hunt Team has just missed qualifying for National Finals the past couple of years and I would love to see us finally do it this year. I think we have a great group of riders and are capable of making it all the way.”

It’s normal for the riders to switch horses along with course work during practices, because the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) doesn’t allow warm-ups before competitions.

“We are always riding new horses, so I think we have to be confident in ourselves and our abilities when we get on any horse,” said sophomore rider Devon Cavaliere.

It’s important for the riders to get to know the horses in preparation for the competitions, but the chemistry in the team seems to be noticeable.

“Our team is so close and we all get along so well that we call ourselves a family. We take pride in our character and team culture and we’re always trying to be the best version of ourselves in order to make the team better,” said Johnson. “We all have a huge passion for equestrian and that passion brings us closer together.”

After a competition at Connecticut College on Oct. 20, Hunt Seat looks ahead to a home matchup on Saturday, Oct. 27.

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