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Belmont Equestrian Club wins six ribbons in first competition

The Belmont Equestrian Club won six ribbons at the Maryville College competition held Oct. 18 – 19.

The five competing members represented Belmont in the hunter/jumper discipline of equestrian sports.

Belmont’s competitors rode against other East Tennessee colleges, including Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

During the two-day event, riders competed in both flat classes and over-fences classes. Flat classes require the rider to maintain expert control of his or her horse during different gaits, or speeds. The judges would call a speed, trot for instance, and the rider must immediately speed or slow while maintaining perfect riding posture and horsemanship.

The over-fences classes also call for the rider to maintain his or her posture and control of the horse, this time while navigating through a course of fences for the horse to jump. The judges would be studying how the rider prepares for the jump, handles the horse during the jump and how quickly he or she regains posture and control upon landing the jump.

To further challenge the competitors during the event, each rider must choose a different horse at random for each of the four events.

The competition lasts for two days, so each rider has the opportunity to ride four times. Before each event, riders pick names out of a hat to determine which horse they will be riding for the event, said Allison Harpole, a junior public relations major and the president of the Equestrian Club.

A rider not being familiar with the horse they have to control is very challenging. The rider isn’t given much information, and the judges would be watching to see how well the rider adapts to the new horse.

“When you draw a horse’s name, sometimes there will be details about the horse explaining his or her temperament, but most of the time the cards just say ‘good draw’ or something,” said club member Courtney O’Connor, a senior English major.

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Each competing member of the club won ribbons in the areas in which she competed:

Mary Ritchea   1st and 2nd: Novice Over Fences and Novice on the Flat

Caitlyn Marsh    1st and 3rd: Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter

Meg Anderson    3rd and 6th: Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter

Allison Harpole    1st: Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter

Courtney O’Connor    5th: Novice Over Fences

Belmont’s Equestrian Club attends two competitions each semester, has monthly meetings and weekly practices and welcomes new members any time throughout the semester.

Any Belmont student is welcomed to join, no matter his or her level of experience with horses and riding.

For more information on joining, contact

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