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A strong start to the LIU Equestrian Season

By Lauren Ritirato, Staff Writer

The LIU Equestrian team opened their season on Sunday, Oct. 1st. The first show was hosted at the Old Town Equestrian Center in Selden, NY. This is a familiar venue for the LIU program, where they often compete against schools such as Stony Brook, New York University, and Pratt Institute. This specific event was hosted by Stony Brook University. 

Expectations are high for the equestrian team, with more than three girls already qualifying for regionals in their division. This major feat is supported and applauded by team captain junior finance major Peyton Lafrenz. She commends the girls for their unwavering commitment to the sport and each other. 

“I like to think our team’s morale is incredibly positive and is the reason behind our success. I feel like our girls are incredibly supportive of one another. To date, the team has had two shows in which they have won both. I feel like all of our girls have really started strong and we have a great group of freshmen this year who have all had impressive starts to their college riding. Our entire team adores both of our coaches and we are always rooting for each other,” Lafrenz said

In each division, the girls must receive 36 points based on their category to qualify for regionals. This process is called “pointing out”. All of the categories that the girls compete in are within jumping classes and flat classes, some include open fences, limit flat, and novice flat.

Courtesy of LIU Equestrian

The LIU Equestrian team is off to a strong start, winning their first two shows. In their first show, the limit fence category winners include Alyssa Baychuk, Megan Rodier, Julianna Tag, and Emmaree Hernandez. In the novice category, the first-place winners are Emily Mulhern and Anna Maria Polcini. LIU was also victorious in other categories such as fences, intermediate fences, open flat, intermediate flat, limit flat, pre-novice, and introductory. 

4th year nursing major Anna Polcini weighs in on her personal experience at shows. 

“Personally I compete in flat classes in the limit division of IHSA. During these types of classes we are judged on specific tests and the way in which we execute them,” Polcini said“Specifically our overall presentation and our connection to the horse- if we are in sync with them and also making sure we look good as well.”

The niche art of being a competitive equestrian team comes with the challenge of “horse draws.” Upon the start of every show at any given venue, in order to avoid bias, all horse selections are completely randomized. This is a testament to the skill of the girls being able to successfully compete with the horses they blindly draw.

Regarding randomized horse draws, senior fashion merchandising major Grace Catanese expressed a common feeling among equestrians.

“Horse draws are always nerve-wracking for all the teams at the shows and for each of the girls because we all have our different preferences as to what kind of ride we like,” Catanese said.

The nerves that stem from random horse draws are a common feeling among equestrian team members. Junior childhood education and special education major with a concentration in psychology Tori Cohen shared her understanding of horse draws. 

“I like them in the sense that it is a way to be fair to everyone, but I don’t like that you never know what horse you’re going to get,” Cohen said. “That being said, as the years go on I have gotten used to it.”

The 2023 equestrian season is off to a great start and Polcini attributes the teams’ success to their high morale and their equine counterparts. 

“Our sport is unique in the sense that we have an other-half each time we compete, being our amazing horses,” the captain said “We truly could not do anything without them and they are athletes as well, working just as hard as we are!”

The LIU Equestrian team will have its next show on Sunday, Oct. 22 in Melville at DDR Farms hosted by Molloy University. 

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