Equestrians Capture Reserve Champion Honors

Justine Burnett in a reining class.In a hard-fought battle, Alfred State College’s Western Equestrian Team took Reserve Champion honors at a recent competition. ASC finished behind Cornell in the six-team show event held at Alfred University’s Bromley-Daggett’s Equestrian Center.

According to Head Coach Marie Dougherty, “This team has made remarkable progress since their last outing just two weeks ago. They practiced incredibly hard and really brought their ‘A’ game. We might have won top honors two weeks ago but in this show we actually rode better. I had two riders who didn’t place in their first shows win first- and second-place ribbons this time out. Now that’s something to be proud about.”

Dougherty credits ASC faculty member Jess Hutchesson with a huge logistical contribution. “Most people don’t understand how much behind-the-scenes logistical work goes into getting a team organized for an event. Jess is a master at this, and it shows. Our team was ‘show ready’ a full hour before they entered the ring.”

Dougherty cites team co-captains Justine Burnett, Almond, veterinary technology, and Shelby Hosmer, Avoca, individual studies, for outstanding leadership as well.

“Our captains have emerged as outstanding leaders. They motivate the other riders to practice hard and help keep them focused. They are always there for the team whether it’s tacking up or putting the final touches on a show outfit. They are always pitching in to help their teammates. We are really starting to gel as a team and it showed over the weekend.”

ASC competes in association with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) in New York’s Region 1. Other Region 1 competitors include Cornell, RIT, Alfred University, SUNY Brockport, and Buffalo. Four shows remain in the season to decide which team will represent Region 1. ASC is very much in the running trailing Cornell by 15 points and Alfred University only by six.

The IHSA has some 8,300 riders in sponsored events designed to allow students to compete at all levels of riding skill. The IHSA is comprised of 370 participating colleges and universities. The organization focuses on participation, sportsmanship, fun, and learning.

Faculty Adviser Professor Vicki Bolton calls ASC’s Equestrian program a huge success.

“For a start-up club team our Western team has done remarkably well. They can ride with any team in the Region and have already proven to be very competitive with varsity riders. Our hats are off to Marie and the entire team for coming together so quickly. They head down to Hurdale Farm and practice, practice, practice. They are a very motivated bunch. None of us imagined they would be this competitive this quickly. They have won the respect of the teams they compete against and the entire equestrian community.”

But to Bolton, it’s about more than winning titles. ”Here at ASC we are concerned with the entire educational experience of our students. Our Equestrian Club is growing steadily and more and more students are enjoying their equestrian experience here. I have no doubt that some of these young people will be employed in the equestrian field. It’s good for the College and it’s good for our students.”

The team’s next show will be Dec. 3 at Alfred University’s Equestrian Center. The public is invited to attend and cheer on the home town favorites. For more information on the Alfred State College Equestrian Club contact Vicki Bolton at boltonvl@alfredstate.edu. For more information on the Hurdale Riding Program, contact Marie Dougherty at www.Hurdalefarmhorses.com.