Equestrian team’s victory carries to regionals
Six individuals from the Rutgers University Equestrian Team returned from spring break as champions after placing either first or second place Saturday in a regional horseback riding competition at Briarwood Farms in Flemington, N.J.
These winners now qualify to compete in the zones competition at Delaware Valley College, said Jillian Cutone, a RUET member.
Winners include School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior Kate Felter, School of Arts and Sciences junior Hailey Pamula, School of Engineering first-year student Gwen Campbell, School of Engineering senior Trista Kuna, and School of Environmental and Biological first-year student Elisabeth Van Embden.
Riders were judged Saturday on the coordination of their riding and their posture, said Cutone, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“[The] judge … usually looks for hands at a good position usually above the martingale [the horse’s collar], a soft bend at the elbow, shoulders back with back arched slightly, eye looking straight ahead, quiet [and] not swinging leg, heels down and a constant pace,” she said.
Before moving on to the regional competition, the team ended their regular season on March 11 with a victory in their region with a score of 27 points, Cutone said. The team has not won their region in 25 years.
The final regular season show included different levels of competition including both English and Western riding styles.
Under the leadership of Coach Kelly Lamont Francfort, the team competed against several other universities including Lehigh University, Lafayette College and University of Scranton, said Samantha Sagot, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Team scores are based on the judges critique of the University team’s point rider in a given class of the competition, Cutone said. There are eight classes that individuals can obtain points from: open fences, intermediate fences, novice fences, open flat, intermediate flat, novice flat, walk trot canter and walk trot.
“Since our team is so large, it is always hard for us to select the riders we think will do best that day,” Sagot said.
RUET is made up of more than 60 members who specialize in various horseback-riding skills such as English and Western styles, Cutone said.
The English style of horseback riding involves bringing the horse from a walk, to a trot and then to a gallop while dressed in full English dressage including an English riding jacket, Cutone said.
Unlike the attire required for the English style of horseback riding, western style has formal attire and involves controlling the horse’s reigns with one hand, Cutone said.
Cutone said the competitions are about luck and the way someone is a riding the day of the competition.
“Sometimes one of us will get an unlucky horse or get nervous,” Cutone said. “It’s a mind game as well and about staying focused even if you see somebody else on your team mess up.”
Lauren Blaha, RUET publicist, said the rider may be assigned a horse for a show that they have not practiced on and must react to its behavior accordingly.
“Really the test is we’re given a horse, and it’s [about] how well you ride the horse. ... You can still win on a draw that people don’t consider great,” said Blaha, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
Yashmin Patel contributed to this article.