Hunt Seat riders ready to open season Sunday at William & Mary
All nine colleges and universities in Region 4 of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) that are competing this season are expected to be on hand (or hoof) when Liberty University’s Hunt Seat team makes its 2021-22 debut Sunday at Willow Pond Farm in Toano, Va., home to riders from the College of William & Mary.
Lady Flames Head Coach Suzanne Flaig is eager to return to competitive events after COVID-19 prevented her team from traveling to or hosting many of the 11 existing Region 4 opponents over the past 18 months.
“This year looks to be as close to a regular season as it can be,” she said. “We still have to follow certain protocols, and hope everyone stays healthy and able to take a full travel roster to each of the shows.”
After completing tryouts earlier this month, Flaig and Assistant Coach Kimberly Counts will travel with 12 of their riders to the Region 4 show to compete against W&M riders as well as others from Christopher Newport University, the University of Richmond, Sweet Briar College, the University of Mary Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University, Longwood University, and Randolph Macon College.
“Everybody goes through our tryouts, and we keep our radar up for up-and-coming students who have experience in equitation,” Flaig said. “We have a good combination of returning riders and newcomers this year and some pretty good depth in all of our divisions.”
She is looking forward to seeing the quality of riders that other schools have to offer and anticipates her team, led by senior captain Juliana Gorena, will send a strong contingent to postseason events in the spring semester.
“All the schools will have some new riders on their rosters, so we will be sizing up where we stand in each of the divisions and how competitive they are,” Flaig said. “There is a lot of excitement, and we have kids that have been working really hard who are anxious to see where their skills stack up. We hope, as the season progresses, to have many students qualify out of their respective divisions for regional competition.”
She noted that none of the schools competing this weekend have a Western riding team. Next weekend, Lady Flames first-year Western Assistant Coach Milly Cavender will travel with 10 Western riders, including senior captain Faith Dantona, to St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C., for their Region 4 opener. There, Liberty’s riders will compete against the host Knights as well as Lander University, Clemson University, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer