Lafayette Equestrian Team rides into a new year

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The Lafayette Equestrian team celebrates sophomore Zubair Ali’s first show. (Photo courtesy of Zubair Ali ’24)

Caroline McParland, Sports Editor

This fall, the Lafayette College Equestrian Team was back in full swing after a year lost due to COVID-19, welcoming new members and putting themselves in a position to succeed.

“This part of the season was pretty successful for us. We’re actually lucky since [equestrian] is basically a year-round sport, we still have all of next season to make more moves within our region,” junior Maggie Sigmond-Warner said. “As of right now, we are second in our region of ten, and we’re only a few points behind the leading team, so we’re looking pretty good.”

The season started off on Oct. 10 with Lafayette hosting a show at the Palermo Show Stables.

“I think for me personally, one of my favorite moments was our hosted show,” Sigmond-Warner said. “Each semester we have to host a show, and that requires us to do everything on our own. We have to find the venue, find the judge, bring horses and coordinate all of that as an executive board with one coach,” Sigmond-Warner said and added that the show they hosted was their first show of the season, and the team “had so many new members that stepped up.”

On Oct. 23, the team attended a show hosted by Bloomsburg University at the Ridge Road Stables where Lafayette came in second place overall. Sophomore Grace McEneaney came out on top, claiming the high point rider award.

“We have a really strong team,” Sigmond-Warner said. “This is one of the first years for our team that we have a full point card. Essentially, we have riders in each division, so we’re fortunate about that.”

The team then traveled to rival Lehigh University for a show on Nov. 7. Lafayette came in third place as a team, and the day was highlighted by the flat riders.

On Nov. 15, Lafayette came in second place in a show hosted by Alvernia University, with great rounds by the flat and over fences riders. Sophomore Anna Paulsen was the reserve high point rider.

The team’s last race of the season was on Nov. 20 at Bayridge Stables, hosted by East Stroudsburg University. Lafayette came in second and had numerous top placings. This was sophomore Zubair Ali’s first show ever, as he joined the team just this semester.

“It was a challenge that I really enjoyed and was very rewarding. It was a world that I wasn’t familiar with, and then once I joined it, it was eye-opening,” Ali said. “It was definitely something that I’ve always wanted to pursue, and it was kind of like I finally got to do my dream.”

Ali said that his best friend, Paulson, was his biggest support system in this journey.

“She convinced me to join, and she did bi-weekly workouts with just me to get me in shape. She pushed me to keep working at this and make this my goal,” Ali said.

The team dynamic exceeded Ali’s expectations and the team made sure to show Ali support during the East Stroudsburg show by making him a poster.

“It was definitely more cohesive than I thought. I didn’t  expect the team to be that close, and for me to be that close to people on the team,” he said. “It’s a collective environment and it so much more of a family than I was expecting to find.”

Next semester, the team is looking forward to four traditional shows and regionals, among others that require qualification.

“Even though it is more of an individual sport, it’s also very much a team sport,” Sigmond-Warner said. “It does get very stressful with the way our shows run, so being there to calm people down and make sure everything runs smoothly is equally important.”