Three members of the University of Richmond equestrian team have qualified for regionals on March 30 at Goucher College in Towson, Md.
Sophomore Erin Flynn will compete in novice flat, senior Caroline Elia will ride in open fences and open flat and junior Christina Cribari will compete in advanced walk, trot and canter.
The team is especially proud of Elia, the outgoing president, for qualifying for regionals in two open classes, said Cribari, the incoming co-president. It is difficult to qualify for open competitions because that is the highest division, and points do not carry over from year to year, she said.
The show team finished in fourth place in the final three regular season competitions. These shows took place during the weekends of Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.
Members competed in two shows at the University of Mary Washington on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17. This left them no opportunity to practice between their performances, Cribari said.
Although it had been her goal since freshman year to qualify for regionals in at least one of her classes, Elia had focused on enjoying her last two competitions with her teammates, she said.
"I wanted to ride my best and be proud of how I ended my season, and I am," Elia said. "I rode confidently this weekend, and it really paid off."
The team improved overall between the show on Feb. 9 and the two shows the following weekend, Elia said. Sophomore Sara Hagberg earned second place in her section of intermediate flat on both Saturday and Sunday. Flynn and junior Kristen Bailey each won their sections of novice fences on Sunday.
During the week leading up to the final two shows of the regular season, competing members had at least one additional lesson at Haverhill Farm, Cribari said. These lessons were key in their preparation because many girls had the potential to qualify for regionals, she said.
Coach Natalie Shinnamon will increase the intensity of training lessons with Elia, Flynn and Cribari in preparation for regionals, Elia said. Elia will take an additional lesson each week leading up to the competition to ensure she rides to the best of her ability, she said.
Preparing for regionals is both a mental and physical challenge, Cribari said. The ability to adapt quickly to the horses drawn will give riders an advantage, she said.
One major factor that the team has prepared for in lessons is being unsure of how the judges will score riders at different competitions, Cribari said. To prepare for this, Shinnamon encourages riders during their lessons to change their styles and techniques on short notice, she said.
Shinnamon hopes the three Spiders competing in regionals will have good luck with their draws and will be proud of their rides, she said.
In the future, she wants to see multiple lessons per week and expanded practice opportunities, Shinnamon said. Quantity is quality in riding, and successful members must be dedicated and eager to improve, she said.
The Richmond equestrian club team has 22 members, which is smaller than most teams that the Spiders compete against, Shinnamon said.
A selected group of 11 members make up the show team, which competes in zone 4, region 1 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. This region includes 16 other schools from Va. and surrounding states.
Elia hopes to return to campus after this year and see growth within the team, she said. She hopes the team will continue to have a fun atmosphere and the drive to work hard, she said.
Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at firstname.lastname@example.org