lake and beyond
Furman Dressage takes first at intercollegiate show
NOVEMBER 1, 2011
By SARA MORANO ’14, Contributing Writer
The Furman University Dressage Team is full of surprises.
Not everyone is familiar with the sport of Dressage, a specific discipline of riding and training horses that emphasizes precision and stylized movement.
Many students and faculty are surprised to learn that Furman has a Dressage Team, as they are seven close members who quietly practice at an off-campus equestrian facility.
Their competition was surprised by their performance October 22 in the Intercollegiate Dressage Association show held at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C.. The four-member Furman team, riding borrowed horses, took home six blue ribbons and a single, massive team “tricolor,” or champion, ribbon.
Furman defeated six other teams from three other schools. Two individual riders, Amy Ferguson and Sarah Smith, received first place in their respective events.
The weekend marked the first big win for the Furman team within the unique competitive world of intercollegiate horse shows.
The show began with a “draw,” in which the horse each rider was to compete on for the day was selected at random. Riders then practiced for 10 minutes before performing their test, a specific sequence of movements mapped out beforehand, for an expert judge. The riders were scored individually on each movement in their test, their overall position, and the submission and impulsion of their mounts.
The competition is a true test of a rider’s horsemanship, said Ashley Farmer, a member of the Dressage Team.
“Sometimes you’ll draw a really good horse, and sometimes you’ll draw a horse having a bad day,” she said.
More than one person can ride the same horse, so the athleticism of the rider is more important than the ability of the horse.
The catch in this random assignment system is that there is a huge home-field advantage in IDA shows.
“The team that’s at the school you’re going to rides those horses all the time,” Farmer points out, which gives the hosts an edge over teams with just 10 minutes to get acquainted with their equine partners.
Furman defeated the St. Andrew’s A and B teams, as well as the A and B teams of Averett and North Carolina State University.
The St. Andrew’s Equestrian website praised Furman’s unexpected win, citing the team’s great riding and teamwork and noting them for traveling to the show even in the absence of their busy coach.