Riding Places 3rd at Zones; Five Qualify For Nationals

Group photo of the Lyons riding team following their third place finish at the 2019 Zone 1 Championships.

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – The Mount Holyoke College Riding Team was in action on Saturday, hosting the Zone 1 Championship Finals. Competing against four other colleges from across the regions in Zone 1, the Lyons saw 10 riders compete in eight collegiate classes and seven individual classes.

The day started with the Zone I High Point class. In this class, the high point rider from each region in Zone I was invited for a jumping and a flat phase to compete for three spots to participate in the Cacchione Cup at Nationals. Senior Emma Recchi, representing Region III, had a beautiful round in the jumping phase, followed by another strong ride in the flat phase. The announcement for results were held until mid-day.

Next up was sophomore Sara Hearn in Collegiate Open Fences, where she delivered a stunning trip. After being called back for additional testing, Hearn was announced first place, earning the first blue ribbon for the MHC team.

Shortly after, Hearn returned to the ring for Individual Intermediate Fences. After delivering another gorgeous ride, she was called back to the ring for further testing over a shortened course. She rode beautifully and earned another blue ribbon, securing a spot to compete at Nationals.

Next in the ring was Collegiate Intermediate Fences, in which we saw junior Indra Rapinchuk-Souccar deliver a lovely ride. She was also called back for additional testing. After some testing on the flat and over fences, she was announced second place.

Individual Alumni Fences was next in the ring and MHC Assistant Coach and UConn grad, Tara Mathews had a strong ride to finish fourth place.

Collegiate Novice Fences wrapped up the jumping portion of the day for the team. First year Piper Lacy had a solid trip over fences and was invited for additional testing. After demonstrating another strong ride, she was announced second place, putting the MHC team for first place in the team standings.

Before schooling of flat horses, Recchi returned to the ring for placings of the High Point class. She was announced second place out of the high point riders from each region in Zone I, securing a spot to compete in the Cacchione Cup at Nationals.

The flat portion of the show opened with Individual Intermediate Flat, where we saw senior Daisy Sears from MHC. She laid down a lovely round for a 10th place finish.

Next in the ring was Collegiate Intermediate Flat as Rapinchuk-Souccar returned to the ring to deliver a solid ride, finishing in fifth. Individual alumni flat entered the ring next and saw another lovely ride from assistant coach Tara Mathews for a blue ribbon.

The individual classes continued with Novice Flat, which saw rides from sophomore Libby Sams and Hearn. Each laid down lovely flat work and were both called back for additional testing. After a series of testing without stirrups, Sams finished in first place and Hearn for third.

This class was immediately followed by Collegiate Novice Flat, which saw another lovely ride from junior Sarah Etzel for another blue ribbon for team MHC.

Etzel returned immediately after for Individual Walk-Trot-Canter. She had a beautiful ride to win the class, securing a spot to compete at Nationals. 

Next we saw sophomore Sinead O'Sullivan in Collegiate Walk-Trot-Canter, who delivered a lovely ride for second place finish.

Our walk trot riders entered the ring next in two classes. In the individual class, junior Honami Tanaka rode nicely for a first place finish. In the team class, sophomore Christine Xiao also delivered a great ride for a fifth place finish.

Two classes of Open Flat wrapped up the day. Junior Franny Eremeeva entered the ring for Collegiate Open Flat, where she laid a beautiful ride, finishing fifth. The last class of the day was Individual Open Flat. Recchi returned the ring and had a lovely ride, finishing in third in a competitive class.

Mount Holyoke finished the day in third with 35 points. The team classes were extremely competitive, with the top three teams finishing with only one or two point differences between their scores. Roger Williams University and Sacred Heart University will proceed to Nationals, representing Zone I, to compete against schools from 7 other zones.

Team Results:
1. Roger Williams university, 38 Points
2. Sacred Heart University, 37 Points
3. Mount Holyoke College, 35 Points
4. University of Vermont, 29 Points
4. Stonehill College, 29 Points

Mount Holyoke will resume action at Nationals on May 2-4, 2019 at Syracuse, NY, where we will send the following individual qualifiers. Congratulations to everyone!

Honami Tanaka - Walk-Trot
Sarah Etzel - Walk-Trot-Canter
Libby Sams - Novice Flat
Sara Hearn - Intermediate Fences
Emma Recchi - Cacchione Cup
Tara Mathews - Alumni Flat

Photo courtesy of Ana Earle '22. Story courtesy of Honami Tanaka.