Representing Sweet Briar at the 35th ANRC National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, senior Lauren Perhala, junior Ali Davidson and sophomore Olivia Smith rode with a consistency that kept them competitive throughout the two-day event. Their fourth-place overall team finish suggests the strength of the field, as they ended the show just a fraction over 10 points behind the champion team from Savannah College of Art and Design and 3.5 points out of third place.
The American National Riding Commission nationals begin with a written examination on riding theory and equine science. For riders who score better than 95 percent on the exam, bonus points are added to their scores in the riding phases and Sweet Briar riders used their mastery of the material to get a head start. They won the phase with an average team score of 95 and Perhala led all riders with 99 points.
Because of the weather, the over fences performances preceded the program ride, which is normally held on the first day of the tournament. Perhala and Smith combined to win second place in the team derby phase. The third phase was a medal-type course with numerous tight turns. The team executed them well, said coach Mimi Wroten, and they finished fourth but less than one point out of the top three and less than four behind the leader.
Sunday’s chilly wet weather put a damper on horses and riders alike, Wroten said, but they rallied to focus on the flat phase. Again the margins at the top of the standings were small and they finished fifth, despite once more trailing the winning team by only 3.15 points.
All three team riders placed in the top 10 in the individual standings, with Smith at No. 6, Perhala at No. 7 and Davidson at No. 10.
The ANRC national championship was hosted April 21-22 by Centenary College in New Jersey.