For the sixth time in the past eight years, Savannah College of Art & Design’s equestrian team took home the ANRC Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, today, April 18 at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va. Not only did they win the championship, they simply dominated the competition, winning every ridden phase.
“The drive never changes [from year to year],” said coach Ashley Kelly. “They do everything they can to show what wonderful horsemanship skills they have. The desire to win is what pulls them to the top. Their desire to make it happen is amazing.”
Home team Sweet Briar College claimed the reserve championship, and the University of Virgina finished third.
SCAD’s team, Kels Bonham, Paul Fredrick and Henrietta Armstrong, hit the ground running in the dressage sportif on Saturday, followed by two impressive performances in the hunter trials and equitation rounds. While Armstrong was new to the team this year, Fredick was part of the 2008 and 2007 teams, and Bonham had two championships to defend.
“There’s always a little bit out doubt and a little bit of nerves leading up to it, but I think we brought a really strong team,” said Bonham, 19. “It was a collaborative effort and everyone did their part to make it go right.”
Bonham’s weekend went according to plan, as well. While she finished third in the hunter trials phase, she went on to lay down the trip to beat in the equitation course, posting a score of 85 and sealing the overall win. Sweet Briar College’s Morganne Young bounced back from a mid-pack score in the hunter trials with an impressive equitation trip (84) to take the reserve championship honors, and Goucher’s Karli Postel finished third.
“Kels has a really remarkable ability to read a horse and get the ultimate performance out of it,” said SCAD coach Andrea Wells. “She rides with compassion, she’s so smart about what she chooses to do and she’s really thoughtful about the process.”
The ANRC championship is unique in the way it’s designed, testing every aspect of horsemanship. The ANRC program stresses the importance of becoming a well-rounded horseman, and many of the riders who competed aspire to eventually become professionals in the industry.
“The team and horsemanship aspect works really well together,” said Armstrong, 21. “Even if you aren’t going on to become a professional, it’s nice to see what else is out there, and it opens your eyes a bit.”
“This competition emanates quality, and quality is the key to being successful,” said judge Anne Kenan. “The quality here was fabulous. Anyone who is in to horse and horses howing should come witness this. I don’t always walk away from a horse show thinking, ‘wow, that was fun to judge,’ but you have to love this.”
Bill Moroney, who had never judged ANRC, was also happy with the event.
“It’s different than the show world, but what I like about it, because of the written phase and the dressage and the hrose trials, is that they are well rounded horsemen,” he said. “It’s creating well rounded riders who could pick any discipline and go excel.”
One thing both judges appreciated was the way the riding tests influenced one another. The hunter trials course asked riders to develop an open stride in order to cover ground, and many of them had trouble reorganizing their horses once they returned to the arena.
“Both courses were set in a way to accommodate a horse of any size stride,” said Morony. “If the rider knew the horse, and really concentrated on knowing what it’s good at, they could show it off to the best of their ability. Glenn Moody did a great job with the courses.”
SCAD is hosting the 2011 ANRC championships, and they are looking forward to giving their fellow competitors a little southern hospitality.
“We’re an art and design school so we’re hoping to get the whole school involved and make something special out of it,” said Bonham.
“Savannah is such a great city and we’re really excited for everyone to come south,” added Fredrick, 20. “The school supports us 120 percent in what we do. We’re really lucky to have that.”
Final Team Results
1. Savannah College of Art & Design – 164.39
2. Sweet Briar College – 157.55
3. University of Virginia – 157.01
4. Goucher College – 152.86
5. Virginia Intermont College – 149.1
6. Centenary College – 149.10
Final Individual Results
1. Kels Bonham/SCAD – 82.95
2. Morganne Young/SBC – 80.06
3. Karli Postal/Goucher – 79.61
4. Paul Fredrick/SCAD – 79.27
5. Laura Hannick/VIC – 78.84
6. Grace Stuntz/UVA – 78.8
7. Samantha Whitley/Centenary – 78.1
8. Lauren Perhala/SBC – 77.17
9. Caroline Kramer/UVA – 76.87
10. Harrison Shure/UVA – 76.67