Equestrian club president Courtney Marshall said this season has been one of the most successful she’s seen at Chapman. Four of the team’s 22 members qualified for the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Regionals at a competition hosted by the University of Southern California Feb. 10.
With six new freshmen on the team and a new coach, captain Catie Woodward, junior integrated educational studies major, said she was nervous about the beginning of the season.
But, after the team’s success qualifying for regionals, Woodward said she’s proud.
“(The team has) done a good job with stepping up, learning, listening and adjusting,” Woodward said.
As members of the equestrian team compete each season, they each earn more points, Woodward said, which carry over from previous seasons. Riders earn points by placing in at least sixth place during regular season competitions, freshman rider Kaylie Posen said.
Riders need 18 to 36 points in order to move up in different divisions.
“In our past experience we’ve usually had one or two, sometimes three (people qualify),” Woodward said. “Going forward, I’d like to see that number increase.”
Despite the team’s success, Marshall said the equestrian team doesn’t receive much recognition on campus.
“I would love for everyone to continue to work together really well and get some new faces, keep the current faces and have the whole team flourish,” Marshall said.
Although the team still struggles with exposure on campus, there is one team member who has achieved national recognition — freshman Shota Ogomori. Ogomori competed in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ogomori is in the running to represent Japan in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. His status as an Olympic trainee has drawn attention to the Chapman team, Woodward said.
“Having Shota on our team, who is the Olympic prospect, has been a big part of developing more awareness,” Woodward said.
The equestrian team’s success can also be credited to a change in training staff, Marshall said. Under the guidance of a new coach, Lisa Rathfelder, the equestrian club has gained access to new facilities and new horses for its shows.
With improvements in membership and facilities, Woodward said the team has become more consistent.
“The longer that students stay at the team, they’re going to be able to do better because … the rider’s points from one year carry over to the next season,” Woodward said.
This season, the equestrian team will host regionals, a two day event starting March 2, Posen said. The event will take place at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.
The equestrian team has been able to make strides in the overall quality of the team, allowing them to represent Chapman and host the event, Woodward said.