Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN / AGGIE / Julia Bernard of the UC Davis equestrian team competes during a match against Delaware on January 31, 2019 at the UC Davis Equestrian Center in Davis, Calif.
Off to the races
One of the up-and-coming programs at UC Davis is the women’s equestrian team. The Aggies are entering their second official NCAA season and the team consists of 27 riders who compete in Western and English style competitions all around the U.S. against other high caliber teams. The women of the equestrian team have been working harder than ever as they enter this new season with high hopes and a full roster.
“Fifty percent of our team is brand new, with freshmen and transfers,” said head coach Jessie Weisinger. “I am really looking at the returners for leadership and guidance. We are kind of a unique team in that we are super united in the way that we started [the team] last year.”
The team welcomes 13 new faces to the roster, including nine freshmen, who seem to be impressing the team’s older riders.
“In both the horsemanship and the reigning, we have some really exciting freshmen coming in,” said senior western rider Bobbie Piddock. “Freshmen Kendal [Scheiner] and Macey Newkirk are such great riders and have a lot of passion for the sport. Malena [Palmer] is the only freshman starting on the horsemanship side this weekend. She is a beautiful rider and works really hard.”
Senior jumping seat rider Stephanie Don also weighed in on the new group.
“For Hunt Seat, sophomore Laura Wise has been working really hard, and she really stepped it up on the scrimmage on Friday,” Don said.
On Sept. 27, the Aggies had a promising Blue and Gold scrimmage where every team member was able to ride and show how hard they have been training.
“We have only been practicing for three weeks leading up to [the scrimmage],” Weisinger said. “We learned a few things about some of our new horses that came in.”
“Everyone was able to ride and practice the format of the meet, everything went really well at the scrimmage,” Don added. “There are a lot of talented girls this season.”
This season, there are new changes as the squad gets more time to train and welcomes more competition. Last season, the team only competed in six official meets before the NCEA championships in April. This year, the Aggies have a full slate of eight official meets, including an added Fall schedule.
“Last year we had such a small team, only 19 girls,” Piddock explained. “This year it is all about keeping that positive foundation that we had last year. Keeping those good vibes and great energy, we all got along so well and worked so hard.”
The Aggies will face some brand new competition as they are now included in the newly formed East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC). They have great excitement about meeting strong programs such as Auburn, UT Martin, South Dakota State, SMU and Lynchburg. The program hopes to qualify for the ECAC championship in March, as it would be an important step in its preparation for Nationals come April.
The squad plans to reach their goals and move past their competition with full force with the help of their powerful leadership. Don and Piddock plan to be role models for the younger squad members by “leading by example,” according to Piddock. At the same time, they must inspire the team’s other athletes display the same level of leadership, Don added.
The Equestrian team has high hopes for this program as they want to keep carrying on the positive energy this close-knit team brings every day — in addition to their primary goal of winning a National Championship.
“We have really established we are all here for each other and care about each other,” explained Don. “I really want the incoming riders and returners to really carry on that tradition of being there for each other and really having a heart for the sport.”
This season’s journey began in Waco, Texas over this past weekend, where the Aggies took on both Baylor and Delaware State.
“We all want the dub against Delaware and Baylor,” Piddock said. “Individually, I think we all just want to go out there and lay out a penalty-free ride, and that is one of the most important parts. Just going out there showing and improving what we are going to be in this new Division 1 equestrian era.”
While the team was ultimately defeated in its first meet against Baylor, it was able to secure two points in the contest. One point came from freshman rider Macey Newkirk in the raigning event and the other from senior rider Sabin Marquardt, who scored an impressive 76 in the fences event.
The Aggies then ended up tying their meet against Delaware State, where Marquardt and Newkirk were again able to win a point in each of their respective events. Don and freshman rider Ella Longo also won their points in the fences event to contribute toward the Aggies’ total point total of eight.
The team will now get set to face Oklahoma State at home on Oct. 26, and then battle Fresno State on Nov. 15, before a two-month break. With positive leadership and hard work, the future of UC Davis Equestrian is bright, and only just beginning.
Weisinger hopes that the team continues to have fun while performing well.
“We work hard, we practice, but at the end of the day you have got to have some fun doing it,” Weisinger said. “Or else, why are you doing it?”
Written by: Frankie Veverka — email@example.com