Equestrian earns reserve champion at home show

Equestrian+has+a+few+more+shows+left+as+they+attempt+to+hurdle+past+Rutgers+in+the+standings.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Justine+Perrotti+19%29

Equestrian has a few more shows left as they attempt to hurdle past Rutgers in the standings. (Photo courtesy of Justine Perrotti ’19)

AJ Traub

It was a hectic Saturday at Alexandria Township Park in Alexandria Township, N.J., where the equestrian team hosted a home show with 11 teams competing. Lafayette claimed reserve champion, or second place, coming in a single point behind Rutgers University.

The two teams have been jockeying for first place in the region since the fall, with the Scarlet Knights maintaining a slim lead. Members of the team expressed that they were happy with the finish, with the chaos of hosting and being shorthanded on the day. 

“We ended up doing really well with a class spot not filled,” senior captain Justine Perrotti said. “[Sophomore] Amanda Fanning was our superstar in intermediate last semester, but she’s abroad now. We had no one in intermediate class.” 

One score is dropped at the show per scoring rules, so Lafayette was required to make that intermediate slot the one that would be dropped from the get-go. In the team’s performance, the riders stepped up to make up for the empty spot. 

“One of our freshmen, Margo Mukherjee, got concussed before the season started last semester, and then came in and won her fences this [show],” Perrotti said. “[Sophomore] Charlie Brownstein pointed up from novice flat to intermediate flat, which is one we were missing. [Freshman] Chloe Meyers pointed up from walk-trot-canter advanced to novice.” 

“[Sophomore] Haoyu Niu took third in his class, which really clinched it for us,” head coach Kelly Poff added. “Justine did wonderful too.” 

Brownstein will fill the intermediate class for Lafayette in upcoming shows. Poff said she had been focused on improving, and she worked with her to get there. Brownstein knew it was likely that she would reach the next class at the show, but was “cautiously optimistic.” 

“I keep track of my points,” Brownstein said. “I knew I needed three going into this show and I knew how much each place was worth, so when they announced the scores, I knew.”

“I didn’t know how we’d work with [Poff in her first season as head coach], but as we get to know her we all love her,” Brownstein added. “The more we ride with her, the more she improves our riding. She’s an incredible coach.” 

Poff, Perrotti and members of the Top Notch Equestrian Center were also instrumental in making the show happen, saddled with more work to do than expected. Leading up to the show, there were moments that required the team leaders to adapt, including hearing that the college that planned to co-host the show was no longer able to. 

“We were told on Tuesday that twelve of the horses we thought were coming were taken away five days before the show was supposed to run,” Perrotti said. “Kelly and myself had to contact everyone we knew to try and get last minute horses and we pulled it off, somehow. Within a day, we found almost too many horses.”

“We really got thrown for a loop, but in true Lafayette form we came through and had a wonderful show,” Poff added.

Among the Top Notch team helping make the show happen were members of their middle school and high school team, led by their coaches Becky McGregor and Brittany Carita, who are Poff’s daughters.

“They helped transport horses at 5:45 in the morning, they helped warm up horses, they sold food for spectators, and they had blind raffles and provided the ten prizes, which is something we don’t usually have at shows,” Perrotti said. “They’re amazingly helpful in every way.”

The team will head to Rutgers for their next show this weekend where they will look to make the jump ahead of Rutgers into first place in their region. It’s one of three more shows the team has before they go to regionals.

“We won [the division] last year, so I’m hopeful we can do it again,” Brownstein said. “I definitely think we’ll get it before I graduate because Kelly is the best.”