Equestrian team defeats rival Aggies 5-3 at championship rematch

It came down to No. 8 TCU’s final rider of the night, but junior Ashley Aikman edged out No. 3 Texas A&M’s Randi Standley 71.25-70 in Horsemanship to give the Horned Frogs the go ahead point to defeat the Aggies 5-3 in a rematch of the 2009 Varsity Equestrian Western National Championship.

Had Aikman faltered during the last ride of the event, the match would have been tied 4-4 and the Aggies would have won the tiebreaker by bettering TCU’s final raw score 570-565.5.

“Well all of us got the win, really,” Aikman said. “Ever since (Texas A&M) took that trophy from us, we have been bound to get it back and we will do that.”

While head coach Gary Reynolds said he thought the victory was a morale booster for the program, he knew a loss could have spelled disaster in the likely event that TCU and TAMU will face each other during the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.

“If we hadn’t won this thing, then boy it’s really tough to get (the team) back up because we’ll probably face (TAMU) again in the final round,” Reynolds said. “For us to be able to come in here and have a victory here was huge. They are a big rival for us because our girls are friends with their girls and they are just a great program.”

On top of having the better final raw score, TAMU’s Maggie Gratny and Carey Nowacek were named the MVPs in Reining and Horsemanship, respectively. TAMU tied TCU 2-2 in Horsemanship, while the Aggies edged out the Horned Frogs 291-288.5 in the Horsemanship raw score.

While the Horned Frogs defeated the Aggies 3-1 in Reigning, defending reining national champion Carrie von Uhlit, a senior, was deducted five points for her horse kicking out. She was consequently beat out 72.75-68 by TAMU’s Abigail Grabein.

“That horse had a bad moment, he just persisted and he had a kick out and that’s a five point penalty,” Reynolds said. “That’s the nature of it, they are animals and they have good moments and bad moments. Carrie’s fine, she knows.that’s the way it is. She’s a professional and she’s a champion and she knows she did the best she could.”

Notes

It was TCU’s first win against TAMU since 2008 and the first time the Horned Frogs beat the Aggies strait up without the tiebreaking final raw score. TAMU leads the overall series 4-2-0.

“This is something that we needed to get our confidence up and move onto nationals and know that we can beat (TAMU) and we can get that trophy back,” Aikman said. “Some girls go out there like they are riding a world championship horse which is something they don’t have underneath them. All of us are great about riding what we have and getting the best that we can out of (the horses), and that’s what sets TCU apart.”

TCU improved to 10-2 in Western, while TAMU fell to 6-3 in Western events this season. The Aggies stopped the Horned Frogs from winning consecutive Varsity Equestrian National Championships last year in a 7-1 rout of TCU in the championship round.

Friday’s event was a dual format, which consisted of four riders per team for each event. Opposing riders competed head-to-head on the same horse so that two judges could grade the riders comparatively. The rider with the higher average score was awarded a point for her team.

TCU was given the right to select the horses for each event, but the riders were paired up with each horse randomly.

The Most Valuable Player from each event did not have to be on the winning team nor have the higher head-to-head score for the horse she rode. MVP is determined by the criteria of which rider the judges would want to show their horses, Reynolds said.

Up Next

TCU will travel to SMU Sunday Feb. 14. After the SMU match the program will prepare for the Feb. 20-21 Best of the West tournament in Fresno, Cal.