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They jump, they trot and they post - and it's all for show. The members of Connecticut College's club Equestrian Teamcompete in shows across New England and give large varsity teams a run - or a canter - for the top prize.
The team is currently ranked fourth in the Zone 1 Region 1 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) and earlier this fall, tied with Brown University's powerhouse varsity team for first place at a home show.
"This is big in the IHSA world," Coach Richard Luckhardt said after the tie with Brown. "I have a very talented team this year with the addition of new freshmen."
The new freshmen riders have doubled the team's size to 22 this year, and the returning members welcomed them. They continued the team's tradition of taking its new members to The Paddock in Ledyard, Conn. to help them pick out show clothes and boots and taught them the team's history.
The new riders are already making an impact.
"Our younger riders are surprising us with how well they are adjusting to intercollegiate competition," co-captain Jessica Klebanoff '10 said.
Kim Klepacki '13 is one of the new riders who has easily transitioned to competition on the intercollegiate level. She earned the prestigious title of Reserve High Point Rider, beating out more than 150 riders Oct. 11.
"The award was a great highlight to kick off the season," Klepacki said. "Even though it is early in the season, the team is already becoming a family."
Becoming a close-knit team is critical to its success. The riders depend on each other to observe the horses that are randomly assigned to the riders at each show. They study the horses' strengths and weaknesses and then share them with their teammates.
The Equestrian Team continues to show well into next year and hopes to finish strong by sending a few riders to zones April 10 and to nationals May 6-9 to compete against some of the best collegiate riders in the country.
-Caroline Gransee '09