Riders see strong solo victories


Sophia Ekstrand ’20 and her horse Esteban compete. With Esteban, she competes at the varsity level and placed third overall in the team’s third competition. She finished with 96 points. Printed with the permission of Sophia Ekstrand.

Keila McCabe

Although the equestrian team has struggled to be competitive in team standings due to its small size, individual equestrian riders have been working hard and placing well. The Wolverines placed sixth in the varsity division after the third show with a combined high score for its top two riders of 334 points. The team is made up of six members from seventh to tenth grade, but division is based on skill level.

Rider Allegra Drago ’23 said that placing is difficult but the team remains optimistic regarding individual standings.

“We don’t have many riders on the team, so it’s less likely that we’ll score higher,” Drago said. “Some other schools have 15 to 20 girls on their team and we only have six people. But since we have really strong riders we are better to place individually.”

After competing in three shows this year, team captain Skyler Calkins ’20 was first overall in the freshman rider standings with 144 total points. She scored 44 points in hunter, 43 points in equitation, 27 points in jumper and 32 points in dressage.

The results of shows are based off a cumulative number of points in different events added after each show.

Rider Sophie Bekins ’21 placed ninth overall in the novice division at the most recent show Jan. 14, and with her cumulative score, she is thirteenth overall.

Rider Sophia Ekstrand ’20 competes at the varsity level in dressage. In the third show, Jan. 14, she placed first in dressage and third overall in the varsity category with 96 points. Ekstrand said she loves the incredibly unique sport.

“I really enjoy working with my horse,” Ekstrand said. “It changes day-to-day, as when the horse is feeling different, you’re going to have to do different things, but that’s what makes it so interesting and fun.”

The team has participated in three out of the four shows in the Interscholastic Equestrian League.

Prior to each show, riders are given a course of jumps to memorize. There is a certain time allowed to complete each course, and the goal of their show is to complete the course without mistakes in the shortest amount of time possible.

Riders are categorized into novice, freshman, junior varsity or varsity based on skill level. Most of the riders on the team are strong competitors in the freshman division.

Rider Katherine Kihiczack ’21 said that building a good connection with the horse is very important to succeed.

“The most important part of equestrian is developing the relationship with the horse and confidence in your riding,” Kihiczack said. “The more you are riding a specific horse, the more you are able to anticipate how the horse might respond to certain situations or parts of the arena.”

Riders have the option of going to practice however many times they would like during the week. The riders almost all have their horses in different barns, so it is difficult for them to have a team practice. Since the riders don’t get together as a team, there are few opportunities for them to bond, so riders have said there is a big difference between equestrian and other sports.

“In equestrian, you’re more focused on your own performance and not as much on everyone else,” Ekstrand said. “In a sport like volleyball when the whole team has to win, everyone has to be more involved with winning together. But I still feel like there’s a sense of supporting each other in equestrian.”

The team’s next show is April 15 at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center.