Equestrian teams place second at shows hosted by Liberty, St. Andrews
Liberty University’s Hunt Seat and Western equestrian teams rode to Reserve High Point honors at their respective Region 4 shows this month, with the Hunt Seat team placing second to Sweet Briar College in an event it hosted in the Liberty Equestrian Center’s indoor arena this past Saturday and the Western team finishing runner-up to host St. Andrews (N.C.) University on Oct. 2-3.
The Flames’ and Lady Flames’ Hunt Seat riders had three first-places finishes and scored 35 points to tie with Randolph Macon College and finish behind only Sweet Briar (41) and ahead of William & Mary (26) in the team totals, while maintaining their lead on the Vixens 107-106 and Yellow Jackets (104) in the team standings after the third of eight shows.
“All teams were here except for Longwood,” Liberty Head Coach Suzanne Flaig said. “Virginia Commonwealth was here this time, so we had a full house, all indoors. The other schools always provide good competition, and it is fun to see riders progress and how the teams strategize from week to week. We all have full rosters, so not everybody gets to compete at each show.”
Liberty’s coaches and riders considered it a privilege to be able to put on its first official Region 4 show in two seasons over Homecoming Weekend.
“It is a lot of work to host it, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said sophomore Audrey Camper, an Introductory rider who commuted from Bedford, Va., last year and is in her first semester as a residential student. She tacked up horses and served as a horse-holder during the show, helping riders get on and off. “It is a lot of fun. Our setup is absolutely incredible, so I love riding here.”
John Hutchinson, one of a few freshmen male riders on the team, finished first in the Intermediate Flat, followed by sophomore teammate Rebekah Honaker (second), who also placed third in Intermediate Fences.
Senior Juliana Gorena won the Limit Fences division followed by freshman Tristan Battin (third).
Camper captured a blue ribbon riding “Demo” in the Introductory division, followed by junior Melanie Dini (third).
“It was amazing,” Camper said. “I came here knowing next to nothing, so I have learned so much. I have definitely learned how to flow with the horse, to look like one being and in sync with him.”
Sophomore transfer Maggie Saunders placed second in the challenging Open Flat division and senior Lydia Lambdin took third in Novice Flat.
At the Oct. 2 season-opening show at St. Andrews in Laurinburg, N.C., Liberty’s Western team rode to Reserve High Point Team honors behind only the host Knights, led by senior Kate DenDulk, who tied for Reserve High Point Rider after finishing first in Level II Horsemanship. Junior Vivian Renfroe came in second in Level I Horsemanship.
Then, on Oct. 3, senior team captain Faith Dantona earned High Point Rider honors by riding to first-place finishes in Open Horsemanship and Open Reining as the Lady Flames repeated their Reserve High Point Team showing.
Amanda Mast won the Beginner Horsemanship category and fellow freshman Abigail Rice (Rookie B Horsemanship Section A) and juniors Morgan Fisk (Rookie B Horsemanship Section B) and Virginia Barnett (Level II Ranch Riding) each placed second in their respective divisions.
Liberty’s Hunt Seat team will next compete at a Region 4 show hosted by VCU in Mechanicsville, Va., near Richmond, on Oct. 31, before the Western team returns to St. Andrews for its third and fourth Region 4 Western shows on Nov. 6-7.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Caitlyn Brown/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant