Sacred Heart University’s Equestrian team has recently started their season at Silvermine Farm against Sweet Briar College. Despite the 6-2 loss, the team still has a high ceiling, as they were projected to finish in third in their division.
Last year, they lost in the first round of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) tournament. This year, they look to make a deeper run in the tournament.
“In competition I try to stay focused on staying in a good mental state,” said junior Emma Grimes. “I like to go over my plan in my head and set small goals that create a big picture. I always remind myself that feeling the pressure is a privilege.”
Grimes is a returning member of this year’s team who got her at home in Massachusetts.
“I spent countless hours in the barn riding and working and continued to enjoy it throughout my teenage years and into my college years,” said Grimes. Head Coach Tiffany Hajdasz brings years of experience and knowledge to the team. “The farm where I spent most of my junior years was in need of an assistant trainer,” said Hajdasz. “Having spent many years with them, I was familiar with their training methods and expectations and easily stepped into the role. I realized the importance of doing what you love and I am fortunate to have been able to make a career out of a passion.”
In the sport of Equestrian, there is a bond that occurs between every rider and their horses.
“I believe that the bond between a horse and rider is built on trust and respect, similar to human relationships,” said Grimes. “Horses are truly incredible beings and become connected with us as we do with them. It truly is a special bond and I have extreme gratitude that I am able to experience it.”
The University of Lynchburg was ranked number one coming into this year and still hold the rank now. Coach Hajdasz emphasized the idea of competing to beat the number one team.
“Our limited practice time will effectively dictate our competitiveness,” said Hajdasz. “To beat the number one seed, we need to be able to practice and compete more.”
“I think our student athletes take their role representing their team very seriously. The rankings don’t affect our efforts or commitment. Our student athletes always give their best and the cards fall where they fall,” said Hajdasz.
In addition to competing more, Grimes believes in the importance of little things.
“We are coming off a big year last year, making two national championship appearances. This year we have maintained focus on fundamentals and small details to enhance our performance as well as building a strong team culture,” said Grimes.
“I am immensely proud of them for their commitment to the team and to their teammates,” said Hajdasz. “I appreciate their work ethic and dedication to doing their best with the resources they have been given.”
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.