Equestrian wins hometown show

The equestrian club team kicked off its spring season Sunday, hosting and winning its annual show at the Westbrook Hunt Club in Westbrook.

“We did great, and it was really exciting, as a smaller team, to win,” coach Margot Sanger-Katz ’02 said.

With a team of 12 riders, Yale won the 11-team competition and defeated the top team in the region, the 25-rider Fairfield University team, by a single point, 36-35. The win should move Yale, regionally ranked No. 9 of 11 regional schools after the fall season, into the No. 6 ranking overall. The new rankings should be released today.

Equestrian competitions have two disciplines: the flat and the fences. In the flat, riders walk their horses in a circle and respond to a judge’s instructions, such as walk, trot, canter and halt. In the fences, the riders must navigate a sequence of jumps.

In addition, each discipline is divided into three skill level categories: novice, intermediate and open. Beginners compete in the walk-trot and walk-trot-canter categories.

A team may assign several riders to each discipline based upon ability and accumulated points from previous shows. But only one team member, identified prior to the show, can score points in each class.

On Sunday, Yale’s selections proved successful.

Two Yale riders took top honors in their classes. Liz Jordan ’06 was first in both the open flat and third place in the open fences. And captain Phoebe Heffron ’04 placed first in the intermediate fences.

Other Yale notables included Phillipa Pavia ’05 (second in the open fences and fourth in the intermediate flat), Becca Krause ’05 (second in both the novice flat and the novice fences), and Anna Robertson ’04 (third in both the novice flat and the novice fences).

Even the horses got in on the act. Heffron’s horse, used by multiple competitors across all divisions, was voted the show’s best horse by the coaches.

Perhaps the most significant performances of the day belonged to Kei Yagasaki ’06 and Aaron Modiano ’03. Yagasaki, competing in her first show, placed third in the walk-trot class. Modiano’s sixth place finish in the novice flat qualified him to join Pavia and Heffron as Yale representatives to the Regional Competition in April.

As a club team that practices once a week for an hour — with beginners training at the Yale Polo and Equestrian Center and advanced riders at Bethany’s Riverside Edge Farm, a private stable with fence jumping facilities — this win was stirring for Yale.

“Fairfield has considerably more funding and trains three to five hours a week or more,” Sanger-Katz said.

Hosting an equestrian show is no small feat. Team members worked hard for months, providing horses for all competitors, renting a facility, hiring a judge and other officials, assigning horses to different classes, and procuring prizes. Sunday’s show ran without a hitch.

“Numerous coaches tell us that we run the best show in the region,” Heffron said. “Over the past two years, we’ve solicited quite a sponsorship backing.”

The spring season is short, with only one regular competition remaining for riders attempting to qualify for the Regional Championship. In addition, Yale will travel to Cornell for the All-Ivy Invitational Horse Show in late April.

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