Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stanford Hosts First-Ever Big Ride

Senior Alison Smith winning a point for Stanford on Nio Lux

On Sunday, October 21, the Stanford Equestrian Team hosted the University of California, Berkeley for the first-ever Big Ride at the Stanford Red Barn. In the spirit of Stanford and Cal's football teams meeting on the gridiron for the past 115 years for the Big Game, the equestrian teams faced off in the arena for a head-to-head scrimmage featuring jumping and dressage.

The Berkeley and Stanford Equestrian Teams

While Stanford's football team clashed against their archival and rushed the field after a 21-3 victory over the Golden Bears on Saturday, October 20, the equestrian athletes from both teams showed a great sense of camaraderie, focused on cheering for riders from both teams. After a running of the colors by senior (and team western captain) Julia Ishiyama and after an opening parade of teams, alumni and freshman riders warmed up a selection of Stanford's open show horses. The judge for the day, Meredith Herman, and the coaches from both schools then met and selected Armani, Kartouche, Kandinsky and Nio Lux for competition, with Stanford's Fresno and Lynn Groundwater's Flintstone selected as alternates.

Berkeley's Taylor Harris and Stanford's Rachel Kolb take MVP honors

After a coin flip with Stanford taking the win and opting to ride first, riders were assigned, with each team getting one trip around the course of 8 fences on each horse. Senior Alison Smith took the first point for Stanford with her score of 79 and sophomore (and hunt seat captain) Claire Margolis followed suit with another point for the Cardinal. Sophomore Alex Kennedy had a tough second ride on Kartouche but did admirably and coterm Rachel Kolb, the team's co-president, had a lovely round on Armani, scoring an 80.5. Kolb was selected by the judge as the MVP for Stanford for the day, and junior Taylor Harris, Berkeley's captain, was awarded Cal's MVP honors.

Senior Patrick Freeman scoring a point on Auzzie

At the conclusion of the fences portion of the competition, senior (and dressage captain) Patrick Freeman went head-to-head against Berkeley's Valentina Volk. Cal's strength on the flat proved very competitive, scoring a 78, with Stanford's Freeman winning by just one point. To conclude the event, riders from the Red Barn and Woodside high school IEA Equestrian Teams rode in a sudden-elimination flat class. Each rider not only drew a horse at random but was also placed on a "red" team or a "blue" team, competing in honor of the two hosts. In a "duck hunt" style class, the judge asked riders to come to the center of the arena one by one until only Castilleja senior Caroline Albright remained on the rail, winning the class for the red team.

Senior Julia Ishiyama running the colors on Cheyenne

Both teams considered the day a great success with over 300 attendees. Berkeley's coach, Diane Yeager, was complimentary of the format and all of the riders. Stanford head coach, Vanessa Bartsch, echoed her sentiments. "It was a great day and a fun way to get all of our athletes ready for the season," Bartsch said. "I was very happy with how Stanford's team worked together to put on such a great event. It was also great to have one of our favorite team clinicians, Jim Hagman, up for the event." Bartsch also credited much of the event's success to Stanford western coach Jana Cain, the organizing chair of the event, as well as to the working committee who organized the day's events.

Team senior Nicoletta Heidegger on Cool Man in 2010 (left) and then as Stanford's mascot, the Tree, with Head Coach Vanessa Bartsch (right) at Big Ride 2012