Freshmen riders gaining experience

A young team featuring 13 freshmen has not held the equestrian team back this season. The team is 7-0 in the Western division, with wins against Baylor and Stephen F. Austin.

Equestrian head coach Gary Reynolds said this year has been a big stepping stone for his team in gaining experience.

All of the women on the team are successful at showing their own horses and being competitive, Reynolds said. This type of competition is different because they ride different horses at each meet, he said.

The team has two divisions, Western and English. The Western division consists of two events, horsemanship and reining. Horsemanship is judged on a rider’s appearance and position in the saddle and her ability to control her horse. Reining is judged on how well the rider guides the horse through a pattern.

The English division also consists of two events, equitation on the flat and equitation over fences. Equitation on the flat is a pattern that is judged by the rider’s hands, seat and control of the horse. Equitation over fences is a pattern that consists of jumps and is also judged on rider’s hands, seat and control of the horse.

Individually, senior Kindel Huffman and junior Carrie von Uhlit have dominated in the Western division, providing veteran leadership for the 13 freshmen.

Huffman has an individual perfect record of 7-0 in horsemanship.

“It worries me because there is a lot of pressure staying undefeated,” Huffman said. “I’ll try my best and see what happens.”

Huffman was named the Bob Lilly TCU Athlete of the Year by the Greater Fort Worth Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2007. The award is for student-athletes who exhibit outstanding character on and off the field.

Huffman has been named MVP at three of the seven horsemanship matches she has competed in and one of the five English matches this season. She set the school record for highest score in an event with a 91 in equitation on the flat during the home opening game against SFA.

Von Uhlit is 10-3 in the Western division, earning four overall MVP’s.

“In the beginning I started slow but I worked on getting into a groove,” von Uhlit said. “At practice I worked on my weaknesses.”

The team has come a long way this year and the English team has made huge improvements, von Uhlit said.

Reynolds said the team is full of young and talented riders.

“We got off to a good start with our Western team. The Hunt Seat team has a bunch of young riders,” Reynolds said. “Five of those who regularly compete are freshmen.”

The young riders who have stood out are freshman Jessica Hagen, who has an individual record of 6-1 in the equitation on the flat and freshman Tassie Munroe, who has earned an MVP award in the equitation over fences, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said Hagen has done a great job and has a tremendous future. He said Munroe is a hard worker and has experience riding lots of different horses.

In the Western division, freshman Jennifer Neel is 5-2 in reining. Reynolds said Neel won her match at Georgia to win the tiebreaker, and she was named MVP at the Baylor tournament. Neel has been a tremendous asset to the team who will continue to grow and excel with time, Reynolds said.

“We should be very competitive in everything here on out even all the way to Nationals,” Reynolds said.