Equestrian Club rides to finish the season strong

GVL /  Kate Kaurich  
Meredith Welsh- Captain of the Hunt Team rides Freddie

Kate Kaurich

GVL / Kate Kaurich Meredith Welsh- Captain of the Hunt Team rides Freddie

Melanie Huhn

A passion for riding horses has helped Grand Valley State University’s equestrian club team to be one of the most successful teams that the school has seen since the club was created back in 2003.

The co-ed team is made up of 33 members of the Inter Collegiate Horse Show Association. Heading into their final show on Feb. 11th hosted by Albion College the stock team is currently ranked first, with hopes to maintain their berth before the post-season begins. The hunt team is ranked a close second. Equestrian teams are not ranked on a win-loss basis, but rather on a season-long accumulation of points.

“As a whole, we are pretty close knit than in previous years,” said junior Meredith Welsh, captain of the hunt team. “The hunt and stock teams have both bonded, bringing us all together which has led to success this season. As a club, we have never come out of the regular season ranked so high.”

The team of riders is split up into two events that compete in either the hunt or stock categories. Both teams choose the best six-team members to compete once each day, twice a day for stock, while vying for the best overall judge’s score on the position when riding or jumping and how they interact with the horses.

“You can compare equestrian to a track meet,” Welsh said. “There are different levels everyone rides at from beginners walk trot to the open level for experienced riders. At the end of the day, the points are added up and the team with the most takes win.”

With small amount of experienced team members returning from last year, the hunt team leading the region in points and hopes to qualify the entire team for IHSA’s Indoor Horse zones on March third and fourth at Moorhead State University in Kentucky.

“We have a great deal of talent,” said junior stock team member Lindsey VanDongen. “Our stock team has four returning members while everyone else is new. We have done exceptionally well. We lost by one point for overall regional team.”

Coming away from last weekend’s show at Michigan State University, the stock team fell short a few points behind overall team leader Michigan State, which kept them behind the Spartans in team rankings within the region, but the Hunt team was victorious both days. The Lakers are looking to use the overall season success in their advantage heading into Regionals.

“We have been putting in the effort since the beginning of the season in October,” said senior hunt team member Nicky Hill.

The hunt team will be riding in their final show of the regular season on Feb. 11 hosted by Albion College at the IHSA Albion Hunt Seat show, while the stock team will finish their season on Feb. 25 at the Regional Stock Show at Albion, where they will compete to show at semifinals in Tallahassee, Fla.

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