Equestrian team competes at zones, one rider qualifies for Nationals

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Lafayette equestrian competed at zones on April 7. (Photo courtesy of Amy Bender)

Amy Hewlett

After winning their region by 10 points earlier this month, top-scoring representatives of the Lafayette equestrian team headed to zones at Centenary University on April 7. The team finished fourth out of five teams.

Senior show captain Rebecca Bender, who was named 2018 Captain of the Year in the region by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), finished third in open fences and seventh in open flat. Sophomore captain Justine Perrotti finished fifth in intermediate flat and freshman Amanda Fanning finished second in novice flat. Fanning, the only rider in the region to qualify for Nationals, was also named the 2018 Region’s Newcomer Award after scoring the most combined points in the region of any rookies.

Lafayette competed against Centenary University, Delaware Valley College, Penn State and University of Delaware.

“At Lafayette, while we have quite a large team considering the size of the school, it is nowhere near the size of some of the others competing,” Bender wrote in an email. “We also don’t have an equine studies program—Lafayette doesn’t have the same size resources, nor do we have time to ride horses as much as we want, like some of the other schools do. It’s amazing that we get such strong riders every year.”

Fanning (novice flat), Perrotti (intermediate flat) and Bender (open fences and open flat) qualified individually for the competition.

“There are five regions in our zone, so the top school in each region went,” Bender wrote. “In total, there are 49 teams in our zone- so the top five get to go.”

Since the team won their region, they were also able to send a team including Fanning, Perrotti, Bender, sophomore Mackenzie Calvert (walk and trot), sophomore Emily Benson (walk, trot and canter) and freshman Emma Wilson (novice flat).

“There are two ways to compete at zones,” Bender wrote. “First, as an individual you have to come in either first or second at regionals. If the team wins the region (has the highest number of points at the end of the season), the team gets to send a point card. This means the team gets to pick their one top rider for each offered division. Riders may compete both for the team and as an individual.”  

In equestrian competitions, an individual starts accumulating points starting at their first IHSA show. First place is seven points, second place earns five, third place earns four, fourth place earns three, fifth place earns two and sixth place earns one.

“At each show, how the riders place earns them points,” Bender wrote. “For most divisions, a rider needs 36 points in order to point up into the next division.”

Points get carried over every year. For Open Division, the highest division, riders must get 28 points in one year. If a rider doesn’t get 28, her points get wiped and she must start over.

“For the team, it’s a little different,” Bender wrote. “A team may have 20 riders competing, but they can only pick one rider per each division (8 divisions) to be the ‘point rider.’ This means that this [rider’s] points (and this rider only) can score for the team, as well as themselves.”

The team’s head coach, Erin Githens ’06, was named 2018 Coach of the Year for the region by IHSA. Githens first joined the team when she was a student at Lafayette.

“[Githens] juggles a big full time job with prepping us and coaching us at every show,” Bender wrote. “She knows the IHSA horses very well, as well as what the judges are looking for. She is one of the biggest factors behind our success.”

Becca Bender and Justine Perotti are representing Lafayette College at American National Riding Commission Championships (ANRC), an ongoing competition in Virginia that started on Wednesday and ends on Sunday, April 15.

“This is a big competition that brings in many top schools from around the country,” Bender wrote. “It is different from our normal competitions because we bring our own horses.”

Fanning will be competing at Nationals on May 2 in Harrisburg, Penn.