‘A super positive group’: Archer equestrian competes in third show of season

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Photo credit: Casey Huff

Sixth grader Allie Cohen jumps her horse in competition. The Archer equestrian team competed in their third show of the school year on Jan. 16 at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center. Cohen has an overall Novice Division ranking 25th of 70 riders in the IEL.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

Galloping horses and a cheering crowd could be heard on the afternoon of Jan. 16 as the Archer equestrian team set up their tent, talked before competing and prepared their horses. Five riders competed in their third of four total equestrian shows of the school year at Hansen Dam Horse Park.

The riders competed in the hunter discipline and under the Novice, Freshman or JV classes in the Interscholastic Equestrian LeagueFreshman Goldie Bronson has been riding for six years, and this is her first year competing on the Archer equestrian team. Some of Bronson’s placings were seventh for JV working hunter, eighth for JV handy hunter, fourth for JV flat equitation and sixth for JV equitation overall. 

“It went really well. I’m a super nervous rider … going into shows, my nerves definitely ramp up,” Bronson said. “I’ve been working on calming that down … overall, I’m happy with my performance, and especially because it was cold, and my horse performed really well.” 

Science teacher Casey Huff is the equestrian team coordinator and goes to the shows with the riders to support them and help them reach their goals.

“It’s always challenging for me to watch the students right before they go in just because I’m nervous, but also excited for them,” Huff said. “There’s a lot to be said about being a calming presence, especially around horses, who can really sense people’s energy. So I try my best to calm my nervous excitement.”

My goal really is just to help increase the youngest riders’ confidence in their showing abilities. I also really hope long-term as well to grow the Equestrian Program, help get a little bit more recognition that it’s a sport, that it’s welcome to riders of all skill levels and increase that team bond.

— Casey Huff, Science Teacher and Equestrian Coordinator

The team competed in two shows in the fall and winter and will compete in their final show of the season on Apr. 3. While the riders are excited to compete again in the last show, competing can be stressful, as there are spectators at the competitions, Bronson said. One of Bronson’s goals for the next and final show is to have a confident and positive attitude while competing. 

“My goal is to go in less stressed and to go in with a more positive mindset,” Bronson said. “That’s just a big roadblock I have to overcome because I definitely tend to go in and freeze. And that’s not that I don’t believe in myself. It’s that I know I’m having to show off for other people because other people are watching me, so I think I just have to get past that.” 

Sixth grader Georgia Wilder competed in the Novice class and the three jumping rounds. She also placed highly, including first for Novice working hunter, fifth for Novice handy hunter, tied for second to be co-reserve champion for Novice division hunter and is ranked sixth overall for Novice riders. She has been riding individually for seven years and appreciates going to horse shows as a team.

“[Shows are] definitely similar because of the people,” Wilder said. “I think it’s better [competing as a team] because I actually know people that are going to the show versus when I do either shows by myself or with very little people.” 

Many people involved with the equestrian team, including Huff, appreciate the positive and cheerful environment that they are a part of at shows.

“[The environment] is so lovely and warm and supportive and we have so much fun,” Huff said. “It’s a really, really beautiful afternoon that we get to spend together.” 

Wilder and Bronson said they love competing in shows together because they enjoy the team’s positive atmosphere and having their teammates support them during competition. 

“Our equestrian group at Archer is super positive. We have a group chat — we’re always there with each other,” Bronson said. “We have a tent with snacks and we all meet up and eat there. It’s all good fun.” 

As riders practice individually at different barns, Huff said an important goal for Archer equestrian is to further unite as a team. The team as a whole has grown and improved together as they’ve bonded throughout the season, in addition to the individual growth of riders both in middle and upper school.

“I think we’ve grown exponentially and we’ve grown really close. We’ve had students who have never competed before in any show ever — they’re now doing it with much more confidence,” Huff said. “I’ve seen a lot of leadership come out of some of our older riders really taking our younger riders under their wing … It’s been such a fun season.”