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Mount St. Mary's Equestrian Team Members Competing in Postseason Regionals

Three Mount St. Mary’s University equestrian club team members qualified for postseason regionals, which will be held in Baltimore at Goucher College on March 18. Amelia Trail, Emma Keffer and Carrie Martin, all C’18, will compete at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association as the Mount participates in its third consecutive year at regionals.

equestrian.jpgThe equestrian team practices off campus—just north of Emmitsburg at Middle Creek Stables, which is owned by the team’s coach, Janis Groomes. She’s coached the Mount for more than 10 years; she also coaches the Gettysburg College team and leads a community riding program. Fifteen horses call Middle Creek Stables home.

“Some of the popular horses are Elvis, Tucker, Princess and Boss,” Grooms said. “We have a variety here, including a couple of thoroughbreds, quarter horses and warmbloods. Those are the three main breeds that work well with what we’re doing with the Mount team.”

In collegiate equestrian competitions, riders are not allowed to use their own horses; they are randomly assigned a horse to ride and given no opportunity to practice—a true test of a rider’s skillset. “We change the mounts pretty regularly so that students are able to practice on different horses: the quiet horse, the lazy horse, the sensitive horse, the spooky horse,” Groomes explained. “That’s what helps them.”

Through lessons and practice, riders learn valuable information that can be applied during competitions. Students adapt to each horse and adjust their riding accordingly. The Mount team rides hunt seat, which is an English style of riding. With roots in the tradition of fox hunting, competition includes flat (riding without jumping) and over fences. Judges watch the horse and the rider for a smooth, mistake-free performance. Form, elegance, style, rhythm and ability matter.

This year, Amelia Trail will compete as class 2B, advanced walk trot canter on flat. Emma Keffer will compete as class 3 novice hunt seat on flat. Carrie Martin will compete as class 5 intermediate on flat. Last season, Martin won her event at regionals and advanced to zones. The team competes in Zone IV, Region 1 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show against 15 other colleges in Maryland and travels to different schools for shows. The goal of the intercollegiate competitions is to allow riders of all levels to enjoy competition as both an individual member and as part of a team.

 “As a coach, I really enjoy seeing the riders come in and mature over their four years. I like getting to know them both with their riding and as individuals—seeing where they’re headed in life. I see growth in everybody and enjoy watching them turn into professional young adults,” Groomes said.

Last weekend the team completed a community service project where they volunteered their time and talent at a therapeutic riding facility in Frederick. They spent hours grooming and cleaning horse tack—a term used to describe horse-riding equipment such as saddles and bridles. Leather needs regular maintenance including cleaning, oiling and conditioning. This necessary service allows individuals who come for therapy to enjoy a better riding experience both with and on their horse.

The Mount also has a riding club for students, faculty, staff and parents who are interested in the social and educational activities of the local horse community. Members are involved in lessons, trail rides, clinics and often come to cheer on the equestrian team at intercollegiate shows. The riding club and the equestrian team were both started in 1998 by several Mount students.

“Club Sports is a program within Campus Recreation that paves the way for students with a passion for sport to fulfill their interest,” said Associate Director of Campus Recreation, Jonathon Hager, M.Ed., RCRSP. “Club Sports are student-run teams that work together to compete with other universities in the region. Students in the Club Sports program work alongside a coach or advisor, handle finances, schedule practices and games, complete fundraising and community service activities, coordinate travel and ensure the eligibility of their team among other responsibilities.”