Hunt Seat riders handled postseason setback with style
June 10, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
Missing the opportunity to compete at the April 4 Hunt Seat Zone 4 Championships at St. Andrews (N.C.) University and potentially the April 30-May 3 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships in Syracuse, N.Y., was a devastating blow for the four qualifying riders from Liberty University's Hunt Seat team — sophomores Grace Radulovi (Introductory), Nadia Cooper (Intermediate Fences), and Juliana Gorena (Novice Flat) and junior Brooke Boan (Limit Fences).
"It was heartbreaking," Lady Flames Head Coach Suzanne Flaig said after they placed runner-up to Sweet Briar in the regular season and Region 4 Championships. "We were feeling like we were doing some of our best riding of the entire year. We were really excited of the prospects we had going into our zone finals and then everything kind of changed at that point."
She was proud of the way they carried themselves after hearing the news that COVID-19 had curtailed their postseason.
"They are just amazing students and it kind of came in waves," Flaig said. "There was the initial disappointment and then trying to figure out what everything looked like moving forward and if there was going to be any alternatives to it. Obviously, they were very disappointed, but very resilient and also very grateful for the opportunities that they had and are looking forward to when we do get to get back to competing."
Despite the shortened semester, with classes moved to an online format after Spring Break, Liberty's riding program took clear strides forward and it will seek to maintain that momentum moving onto the Fall 2020 semester, operating out of the Liberty Equestrian Center, which was expanded in 2015.
"It's so exciting to see all of the progress that's been made in a short amount of time," Flaig said. "We are so blessed to have this amazing facility and we have amazing people that work here and are so passionate about what they do. It is not only so gratifying to be able to share that with our students, but to be able to bring in other schools for our collegiate competitions, develop those relationships and hopefully have Liberty be a place that they really look forward to on their calendar to coming to compete."
The Liberty Equestrian Center plans to host two camps this month — an advanced overnight from June 16-19 and beginners day camp from June 22-26 — before hosting the Virginia Commonwealth Games at Liberty equestrian show on July 25. In the 2020-21 school year, it will put on at least two Hunt Seat and two Western events, including the Region 4 Hunt Seat Championships in February.