Equestrian team participates in IEL


Printed with permission of Cosette Shamonki

Cosette Shamonki ’23 sits on her horse next to her trainer while taking part in IEL.

Allegra Drago

The equestrian team participated in a series of hunter, jumper and dressage classes at the Interscholastic Equestrian League (IEL) Dec. 12. This was the second of their four annual competitions, and the team competed at the Hansen Dam Horse Park.

Team Captain Cosette Shamonki ’23 took home the dressage champion ribbon in the First Level Tests Two and Three on her horse Breitling. She said dressage is an exhibition of the horse’s flexibility, balance and skill.

“There has been so much improvement since the last [horse] show,” Shamonki said. “While there is always something to work on, [Breitling and I] fixed a lot of the lower scores in our previous tests.”

Shamonki said while she won her specific classes, showing is always a challenge for her and Breitling, due to the pressure and atmosphere of official competitions.

“Since [horses] aren’t robots, it can be difficult to adjust riding based on how they are acting,” Shamonki said. “Because [Breitling] is always more tense when we compete, I have to change my riding style to get the best result at the horse shows.”

Shamonki said she values teamwork and encourages that the members of the equestrian squad support one another. She said since horseback riding is an individual sport, having a sense of unity can be challenging.

“[The team] did so well and many members came home with ribbons,” Shamonki said. “Everyone is always so positive and I’m proud that so many members of the team went to watch and support each other. It’s difficult to get out of the individual aspect of the sport, and I think our team does a good job of actually being a team.”

Savannah Strome ’24 competed in the Junior Varsity jumpers class on her horse Daisy. The objective of jumper classes is to clear the jumps set at certain heights with the fastest time on the clock.

“My main goal is to use the IEL show as [as an opportunity for] [an opportunity for]practice to improve my skills,” Strome said. “My first show was better considering my overall standings but this last show was more successful for me because I learned more and got to practice more.”

Strome said she has found a community within her team and hopes to continue bonding with her fellow equestrians.

“I am proud of my team, it takes a lot to do this sport and every effort they make is something to be proud of,” Strome said. “Next show, I hope to spend more time practicing and meeting with my teammates and getting to know them.”

Equestrian Coach Christa Cho said she is glad to have the team back together and competing.

“My primary goal for the team is always that they have fun competing together,” Cho said. “Riding is such an individual sport and being able to compete for school as a team sport is a unique opportunity that IEL and [the school] provide for the riders.”

Cho said IEL is an inclusive community that allows for equestrians of all levels to compete.

“IEL and the school want to provide competing opportunities to all levels of riders,” Cho said. “Similar to non-cut sports at [the school], IEL is like that and there are levels for all riders to compete for their school at. I’m so happy that we’re finally able to get showing again, and provide this unique competition opportunity for our riders.”

The team will return to the arena in the new year and will continue to compete in their respective classes.