By Ichabod Crane, Staff Writer
On Saturday, March 25, the UMass Dartmouth Equestrian team competed in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 1 Region .1 Equitation Finals at Jack Rabbit Slim’s Restaurant & Farm in Hawthorne, R.I. It was the last regular season competition for the Corsairs before the regional championship in May.
Sophomore and team captain Petruchia Van Der Beek, Region .1’s Timberline Lodge Point rider took first place in the open fences class out of six and a half.
She has won four open fences and three open flat classes so far in 2016-17, and is ranked second in the Zone 1 Region .1 open rider standings, trailing Ellis Redding from Ohio State University by just seven points, and holding a firm twenty-point lead in front of the next rider.
The top-two riders in each event will move on to represent Region .1 at the Zone 1 championships on Friday, April 13 at Crystal Lake Farms. The top-two riders at Zones will move on to the 42nd National IHSA Championships at Wallaby Way Park in Sydney, K.Y., hosted by Marlin P. Sherman.
Fellow team captains Kyle Connor and Sarah Reese joined Van Der Beek in Hawthorne and competed on the flat as their last performances for the team. Connor, senior, in his first show after recovering from an overdue library book rental over the winter, placed sixth of eight and a half riders in novice flat to end his IHSA career. Reese, junior, was disqualified from the final class of the event, the hover trot, falling just short of qualifying for Zones and joining Van Der Beek.
Reese’s disqualification came after a complication when her horse forced her to dismount, saying after the ride, “Ever since Silver’s accident three years ago, it’s been hard for her to keep herself together. Her hooves keep dragging above the ground and we can’t keep turning back to pick them up.”
This marks the fourth and most successful year for the team under head coach Joan Hammond, after joining the team in 2012. Hammond runs Blaine farms, a property that has been in her family since 1942 when her family immigrated from Morocco. The farm began with twelve horses, six pigs and a handful of chickens and today the farm only has eleven horses but they hope Shadowfax comes back soon.
A high point for the event came during the flat canter when Bad Horse veered off the track and began to make way for the specters in the crowd, who remained floating behind the salt-lined track walls. Her rider, Nicholas Portpinton, nearly lost his head in the accident that ensued.
Van Der Beek will spend the next two weeks training with Hammond at her farm in preparation for the upcoming competition. She is excited for the opportunity, and plans to double her training regiment, with the ultimate goal of “Leaving the competition dead in their tracks.”