Equestrian team hosts first horse show, finishes third

The Equestrian Team at Williams College hosted its first Intercollegiate Horse Show at Oakhollow Farm on Sunday, Oct. 15. The show was attended by colleges from all over the Western Massachusetts Region, including teams from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges. The show was a tremendous success, with the Williams team coming in third overall, and earning some much-needed money on the side.

The team’s third-place finish is particularly admirable because the Williams team exists on campus as a student-run organization, not an official athletic group. Until recently, almost all of the ribbons and trophies in the region were split between the varsity teams at Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass-Amherst. Over the past four years, Williams has been gaining momentum through the dedication of coach Lynda Gross and the hard work of the team itself. The first-place honors at the Williams show were taken by Mount Holyoke, the defending IHSA National Champions. Against such competition, the Williams team is justly proud of its current standing as the third-place team in the region this season.

Eleven Williams riders, from all levels of experience, participated in the show. Co-captains Anna Renier ’03 – who has already qualified for the Regional Championships in April – and Verena Arnabal ’01 – who is expected to qualify this fall – led their team with their positive attitudes and excellent riding. Renier took home the Reserve High Point Rider Award, winning her Open Rider Flat class and placing third as an Intermediate Rider Over Fences. Catherine O’Donnell ’03 placed second in her Open Rider Over Fences class.

The three novice riders on the Williams team, Melissa Daly ’03, Lissa Ong ’03 and Caroline Norton ’03 took home ribbons, including Daly’s second and Norton’s third place finishes on the flat. Kate Carroll ’03 and Kristin Shapiro ’03 each won third place in the Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter division; Arnabal took fifth. The team’s beginning riders, Colleen McNamara ’03, Manny Holowatz ’04 and Beth Grote ’04 did well in the Walk/Trot division, particularly Grote, who won her class.

While these are impressive ribbons for a young team that has to train without support from the athletics department, it was the positive attitude and hard work of all the riders that most impressed Gross. “Words can’t express how pleased I was with the whole team,” said Gross. “They really put their hearts and souls into making the show a huge success.” In hosting an IHSA show, the team was responsible for every detail of the event, up to and including mucking out stalls and bathing twelve reluctant horses. But once the hard work was done, everyone agreed that it was all worth it when one of the coaches from the UMass-Amherst team expressed his sincere hope that the Williams Show becomes a yearly event.

The Williams team certainly doesn’t plan to lose its momentum anytime soon. As Arnabal put it, “I’m so impressed with how far this team has come. Everyone worked really hard to make the show a success and it paid off. We’ve really paved the way for Williams Riding and a lot more can be expected of this team in the future!”

The Williams Equestrian Team and Riding Club welcomes inquiries from anyone who wishes to get involved with horses in Williamstown. It is not required to compete in order to be involved with the team. If you have questions, send e-mail to 01va or 03arc.