Marshall’s equestrian team competes in second show of the year

Bradley Heltzel, Reporter

The Marshall University equestrian team competed against 10 other schools in its second show of the year Nov. 8 and 9 in Midway, Kentucky.

The team was represented by four riders: Christine Proffitt, Kylie Swain, Andrea Withee and team co-captain Kelsey Willis. The riders collected a total of four ribbons for the competition.

Swain captured the second place ribbon for her performance in novice jumping, while Proffitt placed fourth in the advanced flat class, which consists of walk, trot and canter. Withee displayed good poise in her first show with the team as she collected fourth and sixth place ribbons in beginner level flat classes.

Willis said she thought Withee was nervous, but also said everybody gets nervous before shows, including herself, and she has been showing for three years.

“Getting nervous isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Willis said. “It’s a good thing because it keeps you attentive.”

She also said that once Withee got adjusted and comfortable with the showing process, she became more confident and performed very well.

“After Andrea had the first day under her belt,” Withee said. “I think she was feeling a lot better about herself, and her abilities, going into the second day.”

Willis also said despite the hectic process of preparing for the show, such as figuring out traveling situations and booking hotels, the team relaxed and enjoyed themselves once they actually got to the show.

“Once we get there, I mean it’s all fun and games,” Willis said. “It’s a serious sport, but you have to have some fun with it.”

Willis said she was pleased with the performance by each of the girls and said she thought the team did very well, especially when considering the inexperience of the team at this point in the year. She said that even experienced riders like Proffitt, who was on the team last year, are just getting back into riding since summer break.

The team is not scheduled to compete in another show until February, which Willis and fellow co-captain Sarah McComas view as an opportunity for members of the team to become more comfortable and gain more experience learning the subtleties of riding.

Willis and McComas agreed that learning the refined skills of adjusting to different horses is something riders adapt to over time.

McComas said because these advanced skills can’t be taught, their coach prioritizes proper techniques of understanding the core position when riding.

“The main things we hear over and over are keep our heels down and our eyes up, shoulders back, just stuff like that,” McComas said. “Basically, it’s about your posture.”

As the newer members of the team develop their riding techniques and overall understanding within the sport, the team should be better equipped for their next show. McComas, Willis and the other veteran members of the team have assisted in the learning curve of the less-experienced riders. Most importantly, however, the girls are enjoying themselves as a team while continuing their passion for the sport.

Bradley Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected].