Equestrian team hosts competition; riders capture multiple ribbons

By Laura Pepper

Decked out in their cowboy hats, chaps and jeweled shirts, members of the UK equestrian team took to the ring on Saturday as they hosted their first western division competition since the re-establishment of the team in 1985.

The UK equestrian team hosted the western division competition as a part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association on Saturday at Fiddlers Run Equine Facility in Versailles, Ky. UK competed with five other schools — Midway College, Morehead State, Ohio University Southern, Cincinnati and Louisville — in two stock seat shows consisting of 14 classes each.

Collegiate competitions are different than traditional horse shows. Before each class competes, riders draw at random from a bingo machine to find out which horse they will ride for their class. Riders are judged on how they look when riding, how well they handle their horses, and how the horse reacts to the rider.

Points are awarded on an individual and team basis. The team that collects the most points in a show is called the highpoint western team, and the team with the second-most points is the highpoint reserve team. The individual rider who earns the most points is the highpoint rider, and the rider with the second-highest score is the highpoint reserve rider.

UK came out strong in the first show in team standings, taking second place as highpoint reserve with about 15 team members competing. Cincinnati was the highpoint western. Senior Savannah Craddock was the highpoint rider, while Cody Bouckheart from Midway College was the highpoint reserve.

In the alumni class, UK alumna Lacey Werczynski won the first-place ribbon. In the reining class, Craddock won second place on her horse, Beamer.

“I really had fun with the reining horse,” Craddock said. “I was amazed that I actually drew one. I got to play, and go fast, stop, slide.”

Senior Christi Burrington, the team’s vice president, finished first out of eight riders in the advanced horsemanship class. While the rest of the riders and horses were going fast, Burrington and her horse, Bell, took their time around the ring.

“For western, going slower is better as long as you don’t break gait,” Burrington said. “The horse was great and really nice. She was really good, and she listened really well. She was calm and wasn’t hard to adjust to.”

Craddock, who serves as the team’s press secretary, came back to take a first-place ribbon, this time in the open horsemanship class on her horse, Jet.

“My horse was high-strung,” Craddock said. “It was tough calming her down. I had a reining horse for horsemanship, so to get her to go slow on the rail and be collected was a big accomplishment. I enjoyed the challenge.”