Grown Here at Home: Hollins University Equestrian hosting competition this weekend

The Hollins University Equestrian Team is working hard ahead of the competitions they’re hosting on Saturday, March 26.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 7:36 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Hollins University Equestrian Team is working hard ahead of the competitions it’s hosting. The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 4 Region 2 final regular season show, and the region final competition, will take place Saturday, March 26.

“This is a pretty big deal for us. We have taken the point lead that the leading school had in the region from 28 points down to nine points. We’re tied with second place right now going into this final show and hopefully we have home field advantage. It looked like it wasn’t going to be obtainable, and they’ve really done the hard work to be able to go in there,” said Sherri West, director of riding and head coach of the equestrian team.

“Everyone pretty much came up with the idea that we’re not done until it’s over, so we’ve been able to bring back up the points,’ said team member Rachel Hill.

“This group of riders has really shown that they’ve got what it takes,” West said.

They’re going for the win, and there’s nothing that’s going to stop them. Austin Gore is a junior who started taking riding lessons her freshman year. Back in August, she broke her pelvis. She exceeded the recovery time and is now back in the saddle riding.

“I never pictured myself riding or being a horse girl, but I fell in love with the whole environment, and I couldn’t see my life without it now,” Gore said.

The competition has eight levels.

“These range from very beginning, people who have been riding fewer than six weeks; that was me, when I started, all the way up to the open level, which is the highest level in IHSA. We have riders of different levels and different abilities, but all of our points count together,” explained team member Sarah Himes.

Having great physical strength, control, and pacing will be key for the riders competing.

“When I get into the show ring and I come out knowing I’ve accomplished something, not only for myself but also my team, it gives me a big smile,” said team member Courtney Wilson.

It’s a random draw competition, meaning the ladies never know what horse they’ll be riding until it’s time to compete.

“My advice to them every single time is to go in and ride the horse they’re on to the best of their ability. If they do that every single time, they’re going to come out on top more often than not,” West said.

“We’re just really looking forward to having the opportunity to try this. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get this far in the season, so we’re all really excited that we even made it this far,” said team captain Marissa Jones.

And for some, it’s even more special as they make their final go of it in the ring.

“This will be my last show, so it’s very sentimental to me. I’m excited that we’re showing at home because I love these horses and I’m just honestly excited to ride,” explained team member Hannah Jones.

“We’re really hopeful that we have the ability to pull this out,” West said.

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