The sun shone bright as 76 horse and rider pairs competed at the Schooling Horse Trial in late August.
Held at the picturesque Hitching Post Farm in Royalton and sanctioned by the United States Eventing Association, five levels from Intro through Preliminary were offered at the schooling trial. Comprised of cross country, stadium jumping, and dressage tests, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere allowed for riders to gain experience competing.
Commonly referred to as “eventing,” it is a complex equestrian sport that puts competitors and their horses to the test in a three-phase competition. A 105- year Olympic sport, eventing tests their ability to perform prescribed movements in an enclosed ring for dressage, gallop up and over countryside terrain and imposing obstacles, and leap over fences without knocking anything over in show jumping.
Iris Hudson, 17, successfully jumps My Friend Flicka on her home course, Hitching Post Farm. (Herald / Emily Ballou)
No Horsing Around
While riding horses seems like all play, competing is much harder than it seems. For South Royalton native and Meredith Manor Equestrian College student Mackenzie
Dakin, 19, “It’s hard staying balanced and not getting left behind while jumping.”
A 15-year veteran rider, now for Round Robin Farm in Royalton, Dakin’s results did earn a high 39.5 in cross country and stadium, winning her third place in her division.
Haylie George, 17, of Massachusetts, has been riding for 11 years and rode Rocco at the Hitching Post event. She finds that the time and work put into preparing to compete is what makes the sport fun.
“Riding can be hard when you take a bad fall and the confidence gets shaken, but those hard parts are what I love about it,” George said.
She and Rocco won first place in the Junior Beginner Novice 1 division with a 31.5.
Other top place winners for the schooling trial were Kylie Lyman on Glenwood Mer Calido (Open Training); Sue Berrill on Beaulieu’s Quality Road (Open Novice); June Clark on Rebound (Junior Beginner Novice 2); Lauren Kelly on Call Me Crazy (Junior Intro); Eliza Merrill on Teddy (Junior Intro 2); Janine McClain on Salome (Senior Beginner Novice); Lynn Gaudreau on Mikoura (Senior Intro 1); and Alicia Odell on Chief Contender (Senior Intro 2).
Ribbons were awarded to top scorers. (Herald / Emily Ballou)
A Tangible Connection
Candice Leymarie, a rider all the way from Paris, France, has been riding for 12 years now.
“My main difficulty when it comes to riding is trusting myself and the horse and acknowledging the fact that the horse is not always going to do what you want and you just have to deal with it,” she said. “That can help you grow as a person and a rider.
“I love riding because I love to push the limit and take risks, though. It’s also super rewarding when you do well,” Leymarie added.
For Anastasia Platenik, 15, riding has encompassed nearly half of her life. At Hitching Post, she evented on a horse named Hannah and felt as though being on a horse was just part of who she was, not just what she enjoyed doing.
“I love competing because you get a boost of energy and think you can do anything you dream of,” Platenik explained. “You also have this bond between you and the horse … and it’s unbreakable.”