Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stanford Riders Shine at Regionals

Sophomores Alina Benavides (left) and Laura Benard (right) after winning regional championships in Western

On Sunday, February 26, Stanford riders started the 2012 postseason at the individual regional finals at the Stanford Red Barn.

Senior Justine Thomas kicked off the day with a reserve championship in Novice Fences. After a beautiful round over fences aboard Lando, Thomas made the flat work-off (aboard the incomparable Toby) to clinch her spot at the Zone finals.

Next, senior Rachel Kolb locked down a regional championship in Intermediate Flat, riding Nio Lux. In addition to her success in Intermediate Flat, Kolb will also compete at Zones in Intermediate Fences.

Senior Rachel Kolb riding in Intermediate Flat
Rounding out the hunt seat squad was senior Maddy Sessions, who rode her way to a reserve championship in Novice Flat, also advancing to Zones. The hunt seat classes were followed by a clinic with judge Laurel Bishop, in which several more Stanford riders got their chance to ride and garner tips in a show arena setting.

Highlight performances for the day also belonged to Stanford's Western squad. After an intensive class full of testing and rerides, sophomore Laura Benard emerged from Advanced Western Horsemanship with the championship tricolor ribbon in hand. Benard was followed by fellow sophomore Alina Benavides, who handily rode Master to victory in Walk-Jog.

Senior Maddy Sessions patting Jake after winning a reserve championship in Novice Flat
Benard and Benavides will both advance to Western Semifinals, but not to be forgotten was senior Logan Hehn, who represented Stanford at the 2011 national finals in Intermediate and who rode to 4th place in Novice Western Horsemanship on Sunday after qualifying for Regionals in a single season.

The Stanford hunt seat team now looks ahead to the Zone finals, which will be held at Stanford on April 7 and 8. In addition to Thomas, Kolb, and Sessions, Zones will also feature individual qualifiers Claire Margolis (freshman, competing in Open Fences and Flat), Erica Keenan (senior, Walk Trot Canter) and Gladys Delgadillo (junior, Walk Trot).

Western Semifinals will take place at the University of Findlay in Ohio on March 24 and 25.