Auburn Equestrian Team hit the bar at its first Southeastern Conference meet against the University of South Carolina Friday at the Auburn Equestrian Center.
The loss was the team’s first of the season.
“Anytime you’re up against an SEC school, it’s a pretty big battle,” said head coach Greg Williams.
The women held strong in the first half of the meet as they competed in Western horsemanship and Equitation over fences events.
In the horsemanship event, riders showed their ability to control the horse drawn for the event.
Home riders came out of the event with four points out of five and a score of 359.
Freshman Western rider Indy Roper, defeated South Carolina’s Maggie Fortune on Money with a score of 75.5 against Fortune’s 74.
The ride also got her one of the four Most Valuable Players awards in the meet.
Western riders senior Jessica Jones, sophomore Kristen Hansen and junior Bailey Dymond were the other top scorers in the event.
Jones received a 71.5 on Mister, defeating South Carolina’s Taylor Singmaster with a 70.5.
On Big Bird, Hansen also received a 71.5, defeating Emily Bookwalter’s score of 70. Dymond defeated Ammy Biffle on Kitty scoring 73 against Biffle’s 71.5.
Senior Kylie Miller came up short on Montana defeated by Haley Thornton’s score of 70 with a 67.5.
Hunt Seat judge Randy Neumann awarded South Carolina three points and a score of 755 in the Equitation over fences event. Auburn began feeling the pressure with a score of 648 and two points.
Junior Hunt Seat rider Dottie Grubb, received the top score of 86 on her horse, Clifford.
Grubb’s performance won her the second MVP award at the meet as she made her way through the course of hurdles with style.
“I had a little bit of a tough time last meet, so I was determined to win my point today,” Grubb said.
Sophomore Grace Socha won against Eleanor Kunsman on Stella adding her point and a score of 85 to the Auburn total.
Senior Chelsea Annheuser, lost to South Carolina’s Kimberly McCormick on Pru, 82-70.
Junior Elise Fraza was penalized in the event scoring zero on Lena against Megan Massaro with a score of 83.
Junior Anna Schierholz was defeated 79-69 by Micole Bourgeois on King,
Even with the loss in equitation over fences, Auburn lead the Gamecocks at the half, 6-4.
“We started off fine,” Williams said. “Hunt Seat had a little bad luck over fences, but the horsemanship had incredible rides. It looked like it would be a really good day, kind of what I was expecting and hoping for, and we just quit.”
South Carolina trampled Auburn in the equitation on the flat event.
The visiting team outshined Auburn as the judges watched riders execute commands with good form.
South Carolina received all five points for the event with a score of 373. Auburn came out of the event with a score of 338.
Senior Hunt Seat rider Katie Breedlove competed with South Carolina’s Megan Massaro on Lena, but lost the point, 83-80.
South Carolina’s Colvin Hedgepeth defeated Schierholz on Sam, 61-72.
Fraza and South Carolina’s Kimberly McCormick rode Luke with Fraza losing, 67-61.
Freshman Lindsey Portela came short of Alex Haskell’s 74 with a score of 71 on Howie.
Annheuser received a score of 65 on Diego, losing to Carly Babcock with a score of 77.
The women competing in reining fought back, but lagged behind South Carolina’s riders by one point. Western judge Tracy Willis awarded South Carolina three points and Auburn received two.
Junior Western riders Jillian Fuller and Paige Monfore received points for Auburn in the event.
There was also some sibling rivalry fueling the event.
Auburn senior Western rider Kim Pope, scored 65.5 points on Hercules, but lost the point to Annie Laurie McDonald who scored a 67.5.
Amanda Pope, Kim’s younger sister, lost by a point to Paige Monfore on Dolby, 68.5 to 67.5.
“It was tough,” Kim said, “but it was an experience to say the least.”
Fuller defeated Audrey Jewell in reining by half a point riding Boomer with a 61.5.
Chloe Gray and Lydia Roof of South Carolina both scored 69.
Senior Western rider Lyndsey Jordan, lost the event point to Gray with a 68.5 on Lily. Kristen Hansen, riding Findley, was defeated by Roof with a score of 66.
The women said they are not discouraged, though.
“We got a little bit ahead of ourselves, anticipated things a little too much,” Grubb said. “I think that our team’s really talented. If we just slow it down and ride the way we know how to ride, we’ll be fine.”
Even with the loss, the riders said they are looking to the future and will keep working toward their goal of winning the national championship in April 2010.
“These girls will rebound,” Williams said. “They’ll taste this one. If you’re going to lose one at home, early in the season is good. We will plan on rebounding for sure.”