Seton Hill equestrian team riding high this fall

Senior captain Allison Mello rides her horse during the Seton Hill Univeristy equestrian team’s home meet at Bloomfield Stables last year. In the equestrian team’s most recent meet at Bethany College on Oct. 15, Mello placed fourth in Open Fences in individual placings. Photo by D.Clark/Setonian.

Coming off a fantastic year in 2016-2017, the Seton Hill equestrian team rode into this fall with big aspirations. Last season, the women of the equestrian team won their region for the first time in program history and are looking to build off of it over the duration of this season.

On top of winning their region, sophomore Alexis Kupic qualified as an individual for nationals at the end of last season, capping arguably the best season for the equestrian team thus far. The women aren’t dwelling on the past though, as they have already kicked off this year’s season with a quick start.

This season has the potential to be even more special than the last one. Senior captain Allison Mello raved about how each and every one of the women show up and do their part, which has helped the team succeed in the first three meets of this season.

“It showed in our first meet that we took home the High Point Team championship, getting ourselves out ahead of our competition by leading the region,” Mello said. A week after winning the Slippery Rock Meet, the team came in second place at their home meet, falling just short of West Virginia University.

In their final meet in October, the women won the Bethany College Meet, with Kupic being awarded the high point rider for the third week in a row.

“She has been very consistent being high point rider, which means coming in first in both classes she rides, at all three meets,” Mello said. “After seeing her perform and qualify for nationals last year, her competing so well does not come as a surprise to our team.”

An interesting part of an equestrian competition is that the women draw a potentially different horse to ride each week. This means that the women have to practice on a multitude of different mounts throughout a week in order to prepare for their meets.

“There is no sport without the horses, and even though we do not compete on our own horses during the meets, the bond with all of them is vital,” Mello said. This intricacy of the sport cannot be overstated, nor can the impressive fact that the women of the equestrian team are able to ride any number of horses during any of their meets.

As the team looks ahead to the finale of the fall and the rest of the season, the women have one more meet this semester. The Clarion Meet takes place Nov. 18-19, and that meet brings the fall semester of riding to a close. The women then go into a break until January.

“After our last meet in November we will be finished with riding for the semester,” Mello said. “We will then be back in January to start riding and conditioning to compete in the Tournament of Champions. The competition is being held at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga. on Jan. 27.” Let’s hope the equestrian team can keep riding at this level all year!

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