Equestrian head coach honored for excellent coaching career

Head equestrian coach Sally Batton earned the 2013 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association lifetime achievement award in late January. In her 23rd season as head coach and riding director, Batton has led the team to three Ivy League titles, most recently in 2010.

"It was really thrilling for me," Batton said. "I really am honored by my peers awarding this to me and saying thank you for all I have done."

Batton has been a member of the IHSA board of directors since 1984. Batton has served as regional president as well as chair of numerous committees. Batton became the national steward in 2011 and sits on the executive committee.

"The main part of my coaching style is a sense of humor," Batton said. "Whether we are having mounted or unmounted practices, I like for there to be a lot of fun involved."

Batton has not only earned the respect of the equestrian world, but also that of her players.

"I was definitely intimidated by Sally at first, but then I quickly realized that she is just an incredible coach, person and mother," Emma Waugh '16 said. "I have been able to relate to her on a personal level as well as learn in such a short amount of time."

Waugh said the team has a strong bond this season.

"One of the most noteworthy things about this season was that all of the girls that had previously been on the team have said that this is one of the best team dynamic years we've had in a really long time," she said.

Other team members complimented Batton's personality.

"She's really funny," captain Helena Witte '13 said. "We spend so much time with her and she is a blast to hang out with because she is a great coach and very much a resource to us in other realms of life."

Witte had a strong season, ending with a first place finish in the Novice Flat event in the final competition of the season in Boxford, Mass. Witte's effort was enough to move her up to the Intermediate Flat division and qualify for regional competition. Batton has been an important figure throughout Witte's riding career at Dartmouth, and she has appreciated her support throughout.

"She takes me seriously as a rider and a team leader," Witte said. "We definitely have a symbiotic relationship and she makes it very easy to communicate and work together with her."

In 2008, Batton earned national attention for her work in the Upper Valley, and was named the American Riding Instructors' Association instructor of the year.

"I really like to teach and help the riders who aren't as experienced, not only how to ride but teach them good horsemanship and how to care for the horse," Batton said.

The Big Green finished second in its first three matches and fourth in its final event of the season. The team ended the fall season ranked No. 2 in zone one, region two and will return for the spring season in March.

"She's able to teach a lesson with girls that have just been on horses for the first time of their lives and girls that have been riding for their entire lives," Waugh said. "She can divide her attention beautifully, because previously I have been in lessons where somebody is at a different level and it's really hard to get the same out of an hour-long lesson. She does a great job making sure that we are all learning."

Batton deserved to be recognized, Witte said.

"I think what makes her such a great coach is that she is excellent at identifying different riders' strengths and weaknesses, and coaching them on an individual level," she said. "She is really good at knowing what people are good at and what they need from her and tailoring her coaching to the individual."

Batton is the 21st recipient of the IHSA lifetime achievement award. She will be officially honored in May at the IHSA national championship in Harrisburg, Pa.

"I know generations of Dartmouth people who have had great experiences with her," Witte said. "I have had so many people who are long graduated compliment Sally, so I am very excited to see her receive this award."

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