BY ANNA BALLOU '20
This past Saturday, the MHC Equestrian Team hosted eight other college equestrian teams for their first home Intercollegiate Horse Show Association show of the competitive season. MHC finished the day first out of the nine competing teams, with a total score of 45, only four points shy of perfection.
16 riders saw first place finishes in their respective disciplines to help secure the win for MHC. 11 additional riders placed in the top three, helping earn the team additional points in multiple sections.
The show began early Saturday morning in high difficulty with Open Fences. Both Bridget Finnerty ’17 and Mollie Kowalchik ’18 earned top finishes, placing second and third, respectively.
Three sections of Intermediate Fences followed with three riders placing well in their respective sections. Standout Emily Holowczak ’18 finished first in her section, while Rachael Fulop ’19 and Taryn Isenburg ’18 took first and third respectively in a later section to complete competition in the division for the day.
Novice Fences followed, featuring an exceptionally large group of MHC riders, with four finishing strong. Daisy Sears ’19, Harriet Thomson ’20, Mika McKinney ’18 and Sabrina Fox ’18 saw first place finishes, while Lexi Lobdell ’20 and Ellie Demmons ’17 claimed second in their sections.
The day continued with Advanced Walk Trot Canter, in which MHC riders placed in the top three for all three sections. In the first group, Cat Lamond ’18 rode well to secure first place. She was followed by two impressive rides in section two by Maya Brody ’20 and Abigail Watkins ’20. Finishing third, Watkins’ ride marked her ISHA debut. Brody saw a first place finish to add to MHC’s dominating overall performance. The final section of Walk Trot Canter featured a third place finish from Tess Ahlers ’19.
Continuing in high difficulty, three riders competed in Open Flat. The power duo of Finnerty and Francesca Eremeeva ’20 finished in the top two spots for the discipline. Finnerty claimed first, while Eremeeva followed closely behind in second.
Novice Flat followed with Lily DeBenedictis ’19, Emma Recchi ’19 and Demmons all claiming first in their respective sections.
Intermediate Flat featured first place finishes from McKinney, Holowczak and Sarah Felman ’17. Kowalchik and Sears also rode well to claim second and third, respectively.
Walk Trot saw only one MHC rider finish in the top three. Alexandra Friedman ’18 rode extremely well to secure the top spot for her section.
In the last event of the show, MHC finished strong with two riders finishing first and second in Beginner Walk Trot Canter. Charlotte Pletsch ’20 secured the top spot, while Morgan Remillard ’20 claimed second.
At the close of the show, McKinney and Holowczak were called back to the ring to compete for the High Point Rider title. After two rides, McKinney was named Overall High Point Rider and Holowczak claimed overall Reserve High Point Rider. Holowczak was also awarded Intermediate High Point Rider and Demmons was named Novice High Point Rider. Such success is not unknown to MHC riding, as the team sees continued overall recognition at most of the shows it attends. Eremeeva credits such successto the close-knit and supportive atmosphere of the team. “The team dynamic is amazing, just like a family,” she said.
Based on their exceptional rides from the day, three riders secured a chance to compete in regionals in their respective disciplines. Finnerty will compete in Open Flat, Kowalchik in Intermediate Flat and Sears in Novice Fences.
MHC finished the show with a total of 45 points. The team was followed by UMass, Williams, Westfield State and Smith to round out the top five.
Reflecting on her experiences from the show, Eremeeva also commented, “Throughout the day you could spot the MHC riders easily, as we were either clapping because one of us won or smiling because we were having a blast. It was a magical day and we hope to continue this successful performance.”
Riding returns to action on November 12th at the Amherst College IHSA Show, which will be held at Biscuit Hill Farm. The team hopes to continue its first place overall streak into the remainder of its season.