Archer equestrian gallops into season with first shows

After+the+JV+flat+equitation+round%2C+the+riders+go+to+the+middle+of+the+ring+while+the+scores+are+tallied.+The+Archer+equestrian+team+competed+in+their+first+show+of+the+season+on+Nov.+7+at+Hansen+Dam+Equestrian+Center.

Photo credit: Casey Huff

After the JV flat equitation round, the riders go to the middle of the ring while the scores are tallied. The Archer equestrian team competed in their first show of the season on Nov. 7 at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center.

By Audrey Chang , Staff Reporter

Horses galloping through the ring. Teammates cheering for each other as they jump and go through the courses. Riders hugging their teammates and their horses. The equestrian team is an all-year sport, and the team has already competing in their first shows. 

The team has a roster of 10 students in both middle and upper school, and they compete in the Interscholastic Equestrian League, which is school-based. The equestrian team usually competes in four shows per year, and they had their first show on Nov. 7 at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center. Six students competed and placed highly in a variety of disciplines. Gabby Kaplan (’27) placed #6 for Novice Class overall hunters, Sheila Micelli (’27) tied for #8 for Freshman Class overall champ and was #4 for Freshman overall hunters and Lucy Lassman (’23) placed #11 and Goldie Bronson (’25) #5 for JV overall champ. They will have three more shows throughout the year, one more in winter and two in spring. 

“So far, [the season has] actually been going pretty well,” junior and co-captain of the equestrian team Lucy Lassman said. “We’ve only had one show — we brought home a bunch of blue ribbons, which was really good. A lot of us are currently ranked pretty high on the overall rankings and performances.” 

Equestrian riders face challenges in their sport, as they have to rely on a horse, which can be unpredictable.

“It’s the only sport that has a live animal in it, so there is a level of love and heart that I don’t think you see in other sports just because you are so connected to your partner,” equestrian coordinator and science teacher Casey Huff said. “It’s also really individual … When you’re out in the ring, it’s just you. So there’s no other real sport that is so individualized at Archer.” 

In the shows, there are three main disciplines that riders can compete in: hunters, jumpers and dressage. The members of the equestrian team all compete as hunters, which is the discipline focused on the horse and its movement and character when being ridden. 

We’re so fortunate and I’m really happy that we get to share… our passion for horses [and] horseback riding with the school and with our other teammates.”

— Evie Becky

“I think it’s just the fact that it’s not like one of those other sports where you can just rely on yourself to get better,” Lassman said. “It’s a team between you and your horse and establishing a sense of trust and communication.” 

The equestrian team is the only sports team at Archer to have students participating from both middle and upper school on the same team, and the team has fairly equal representation from the different grades, according to Huff. 

“We have a really good representation of middle school this year, so that’s been awesome,” Huff said. “It’s really kind of 50-50.” 

Many middle schoolers on the team, like sixth grader Allie Cohen, have enjoyed the opportunity to do something she loves while also competing for Archer. 

“I just love competing in horse shows, and I love horse riding,” Cohen said. “It’s great that our school has a team so that we could still compete in shows [and] could still do it for our school.”

Since every rider is trained individually, the team does not practice together. To replace this missed connection, Huff holds meetings during lunch in her room where the students on the equestrian team can talk and connect outside of shows. 

“It’s about just creating that good team bond,” Huff said. “and since we do have middle schoolers — some of whom this is their first time ever showing or competing with horses — just helping build their confidence and their Archer team spirit.” 

Sixth graders Evie Becky and Cohen agree that the equestrian team has been a “welcoming” and “fun” environment for them, especially because it is their first year on the team and at Archer. 

“Everybody just treats us not like we’re the youngest people on the team or we don’t know anything, we just are part of the team and it doesn’t matter what grade we’re in,” Becky said. “They like having our voices heard — I definitely feel a sense of belonging, which has been nice.” 

The members of the team have enjoyed getting to know students from other grades that they may not have if not for their shared passion for equestrian. 

“I really love the fact that it’s just another opportunity to get to know and establish stronger connections with other girls at the school,” Lassman said. “There are still so many people here that I don’t know and being able to find a group of people that all share a common interest and building connections off of that same interest is just really valuable.”

According to Lassman, while the team may not connect through practices in the way traditional sports teams do, the students on the equestrian team still feel very bonded with each other.

“I think that as a team, we do miss out on the traditional team relationship, but we substitute the missed team practices with lunch meetings with each other,” Lassman said. “As an upper schooler, I don’t really have a lot of opportunities now especially because of COVID to interact with the middle schoolers, so having that opportunity to bond with them is really nice.”