Sweet Briar riders help Team USA win bronze at AIEC World Finals

Team USA
Team USA earned a podium spot at the 2018 AIEC World Finals in Belgium.

Recent Sweet Briar graduate Makayla Benjamin and junior Kirsten Reinhart competed for the United States at the 2018 AIEC World Finals in Oud-Heverlee, Belgium, with Benjamin finishing second in individual show jumping and Team USA earning a bronze medal in the Silver League.

“The experience itself was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the show was very different [in format] from the other international shows I’ve competed in,” Reinhart said. “It was amazing to have someone I know show me the ropes.”

Reinhart, Benjamin and Dinnia DiGennaro, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, comprised Team USA in the Silver League and competed against Sweden, The Netherlands, Estonia, Norway, France, Poland and Austria.

“Having two teammates [who are] veterans of the competition really helped me, since world finals was my first AIEC show and their performance led the team to finish up in bronze show jumping and bronze overall in the Silver League,” Reinhart said.

Benjamin, winner of the 2018 USEF/Cacchione Cup and the 2015 AIEC World Finals show jumping competition in Germany, finished second in individual show jumping and earned sixth in the combined ranks.

Team USA
Team USA, from left: Kirsten Reinhart, Dinnia DiGennaro and Makayla Benjamin

Reinhart and Benjamin helped the United States earn bronze in show jumping and overall combined rankings in the Silver League, while Sweden earned gold and Estonia picked up silver as a team.

“World Finals Belgium was a wonderful experience. I was able to compete against some of the best student riders in the world and I got to show alongside my Sweet Briar sister, Makayla Benjamin,” Reinhart added.

Team USA was selected based on individual results in USEF competitions over the past 12 months. The event took place Dec. 29, 2018, through Jan. 1, 2019. More information about AIEC, the World University Equestrian Federation, is at aiecworld.com.