Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN / AGGIE. The UC Davis equestrian team competes at its first home match against Oklahoma State on October 23, 2019 at the UC Davis Equestrian Center.
Young riders, reigning team thrive in promising afternoon for UC Davis equestrian
The UC Davis women’s equestrian team was defeated 13-5 by the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowgirls in a rigorous third matchup of the season. The Aggies garnered at least a point in each of the four events and outscored their opponents in reigning, but the skill and experience of Oklahoma State was enough to down UC Davis.
This was the Aggies’ first home meet of the year, and although the home team typically has the advantage of competing on its own horses, Senior jumping seat rider and captain Stephanie Don described how there can also be less favorable aspects.
“Home games are always really hard because we have to do all the preparation ourselves, we run the whole thing, so I’m so proud of [the team]” Don said.
Nevertheless, UC Davis was still able to remain competitive in the defeat. Impressively, this is only the second year the Aggies have competed as an official NCAA level team, and continue to show flashes of brilliance even against the high-caliber of teams they’re already competing against.
“I’m super proud of our girls,” Don continued. “All of the lineup girls tried really hard and we worked really hard all this week leading up to [the meet]. On the hunt seat side, we had really good rides. All of our horses were behaving, too, and they did great as well.”
The meet opened with the fences event, where Don was able to grab a point for the Aggies with a score of 76.0 in the final draw. Sophomore Keely Laughlin and senior Sabin Marquardt were also able to put together rides that scored 74.0 and 78.0, respectively, but were outdone by the Oklahoma State riders they went up against.
Meanwhile on the outdoor arena, teams competed in the reigning event, where freshman Kendal Scheiner and junior Charlize Zuraek were both able to collect a point for UC Davis with rides of 65.0 and 68.0, respectively. Freshman Macey Newkirk scored a team-high 73.0 on her ride, but was unable to come away with a point because her OSU opponent finished with an identical score.
Two points turned out to be enough for the Aggies to outscore the Cowgirls in reigning, as two of the five head-to-head rides ended in a tie — so UC Davis took the event with a 2-1 score.
“I think that’s one really important aspect of this game is that we have huge 1200-1300 pound animals that have to do their job, too, just like how we have to,” said senior reigning rider Bobbie Piddock. “And so they all really came to play today. They all gave us their heart, and the girls did too. We laid out really good rides, really fun rides, so it was cool to watch.”
In the final two events of the afternoon — horsemanship and flat — sophomore Sarah Finkel and freshman Ella Longo had highlight rides for the Aggies. Finkel scored a 73.0 for her horsemanship ride, collecting UC Davis’ lone point of that event. In the flat event, Longo scored a team-high 75.0, but was unable to top her competitor, Oklahoma State senior Hannah Janson, who scored a 77.0 and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player for the event.
In her second ride of the day, and this time in the flat event, Marquardt was able to earn the fifth and final point for UC Davis with a ride that scored a 64.0.
An aspect of the season thus far that the Aggies can certainly pride themselves on is their reining team, which tied a now-ranked Delaware State squad on Oct. 5 and captured a victory on Saturday against Oklahoma State.
Fortunately for the Aggies, they will have the home-arena advantage for the next two meets as well, when they host Fresno State on Nov. 15, and then Auburn at the end of January. The large time frame in between matches will be beneficial to this young, rising squad, as Don noted.
“Just as long as we continue to practice hard and work hard, we should keep doing well and getting better,” Don explained. “I think that getting better will come naturally, we’re just super young and such a young program, that good things will definitely come in the future.”
Written by: AJ Seymour — firstname.lastname@example.org