Roanoke College has a hidden treasure for horse lovers, says Anne Watson, a senior at the College.
Watson, who is from Charlottesville, Va., is captain of Roanoke’s Riding Team. She has been riding horses since she was 10 years old.
Team members ride at Stone Bridge Farm in Natural Bridge, Va., and they take weekly lessons to improve their horsemanship. At the collegiate level, showing horses is considered both a team and individual sport. Roanoke’s team, led by Coach Carolyn Williams, first started competing in 2009.
The team competes through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Roanoke students compete against riders at other regional colleges, including Hollins University, the University of Virginia, Washington and Lee University and Lynchburg College.
This month, the team has five shows on its schedule, including one this Saturday at Bridgewater College.
This past week, Roanoke’s riding team competed in two shows at Randolph College and Sweet Briar College. Watson finished in 1st and 5th place.
We recently spoke with Watson about Roanoke’s riding team and her own experiences with horses.
RC News Blog: How many people are on the riding team? Is it co-ed?
Anne Watson: We have about 11 on the team, but not everyone is showing yet. Some people haven’t ridden before so were just trying to get them used to riding. We do have one boy on the team, James Owusu. He is from Paris, France.
RC News Blog: What responsibilities do you have as the captain? Are there any other teammates who hold a position?
Anne Watson: I get everyone’s schedule and organize the lesson times. We try to car pool as much as possible. I get everyone together and see who can ride with whom. There are two girls who will be taking over as co-captains for the next year (Ellen McCumber and Coral Wood). Everyone kind of takes on leadership roles naturally.
RC News Blog: Do you own a horse or have a favorite to ride?
Anne Watson: At home, I free lease. I definitely have favorites at the barn. You get really attached to the horses. Free lease is kind of like renting. You don’t own the horse, but you keep it and can ride it whenever. Â My mom rode and had horses when she was growing up, and I would see pictures of her jumping, and I thought it was the coolest thing. So, that’s how I became interested.
RC News Blog: How did the riding team perform in competitions this past year? What are your personal riding goals?
Anne Watson: This fall, everybody who showed got a ribbon. That was a first for Roanoke, and that was exciting. When I started showing, I was in beginner walk trot canter, and after a few shows, I had earned enough points to move up a level to advanced walk trot canter. [A 1st place ribbon is 7 points, 2nd is 5 points, 3rd is 4, and so on. You have to earn a certain amount of points to move up a level].
Last semester I earned enough points to move up another level to novice, so moving up two classes has been pretty rewarding to me personally. I hope to do well enough at Regionals (Feb. 24) to make it to the next level of competition, which is zones. I would have to get a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place to go to zones. The next level would be Nationals.
RC News Blog: What do you enjoy about being a part of this team?
Anne Watson: I just love going up to the barn and taking lessons. I probably spend about two hours at the barn and then, driving is probably an hour total. Â It’s definitely worth the drive. It’s relaxing after class.
-By Morgan Conroy ’14