Sweet Briar College’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team entered Saturday’s show at Bridgewater College trying to hang on to first place in the IHSA’s Zone 4, Region 2, with Hollins University just three points behind in second. Bridgewater College was in third, 10 points behind SBC’s total of 195 points for the season.
By the end of the show, Bridgewater College had passed SBC by one point in the Region 2 standings, but the Vixens kept a two-point advantage over Hollins. Heading into the regular season’s final shows this weekend, the region leaders are Bridgewater with 227 points, Sweet Briar with 226 and Hollins with 224. James Madison is not far behind with 198 points, followed by Lynchburg with 197 and Randolph College with 196.
The razor-thin margins at the top of the pack had the Vixens’ cheerful but admittedly tired head coach joking about defending the slim lead at the Bridgewater show. “It’s surely getting stressful, not fun being one of the teams to beat,” said Emily Casali, who took over the team at the end of the fall 2008 semester after serving as assistant IHSA coach for the past year and a half.
The show began with Open Fences, where seniors Meredith Newman and Alison Sims rode in sections A and B, placing sixth and third respectively. With the third-place ride, Sims became the third Region 2 rider to qualify for the regional finals in the Open Fences position.
The only SBC rider to make an appearance in Intermediate Fences, Greer Gordon ’12, placed fourth. The day began to pick up for the Vixens when junior Paige Kaylor won her Novice Fences class of eight riders.
“This was Paige’s first appearance in Novice this year, but she is now in prime position to qualify for Regionals in Novice Fences sometime this upcoming weekend,” Casali said.
Flat classes began with Newman winning third place in an Open class that Casali described as difficult. Sims was fourth in the following section of the same class. Intermediate Flat was a strong division for Sweet Briar with Heather McPheeters ’10 and Kaylor both winning second place in their sections.
Kaylor’s first- and second-place finishes combined for 12 points — the second most in the individual point standings, making her the show’s reserve high-point rider behind Lynchburg College’s Kelly Gerland.
Gordon was next in Novice Flat, where she placed second out of 11 riders. Townsend Horvath ’12 followed in Advanced Walk, Trot, Canter with a third place and Alysha Norbury ’10 was fourth in Walk, Trot.
Sweet Briar finished the day tied with Lynchburg College for third place with 31 points each. Bridgewater College was the winner on its home turf with an impressive 42 points. Hollins was second with 32.
The Zone 4, Region 2 regular season wraps up with two shows, one at Hollins on Saturday, Feb. 21 and another at the University of Virginia on Sunday morning, Feb. 22. The post season begins the same day at U.Va. with the first Regional competition in the afternoon. The Vixens have two riders qualified to ride in the Regional, McPheeters in Intermediate Fences and Sims in Open Fences.