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Equestrian team fights for league win

contributing photographer Alison Moser
Photo by Alison Moser

On April 17, the team’s riders will gather at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center to try to ride their way to the top. Marlborough currently sits second in overall rankings to rival La Reina High School.
Marlborough’s team of 20 competes in the Interscholastic Equestrian League (IEL), which hosts four competitions each year—two in the winter and two in the spring—making equestrian an all-season sport. All riders train at independent barns outside of school, where they practice with their own horses and trainers.
Equestrian coach and science instructor Elizabeth’s duties as team coach include managing paperwork for league memberships, updating the team about competition results and standings, organizing meetings for announcements and team bonding and rallying team spirit. Elizabeth, herself, has ridden since she was five.
The team prides itself on its enthusiasm. The Mustangs won the award for most spirited at the final show of last year. Elizabeth even dressed up as Sally Mustang. This is the same team spirit that enables the riders to enjoy so much success, according to Elizabeth.
“The fact that the team is so fiercely competitive at IEL shows that everyone really bonds together in the purple haze when they need to,” she said.
The team meets at the IEL horse shows with its respective horses and trainers to compete against over 70 other schools from Southern California. Each rider competes in her events and receives points based on how well she placed against her competitors. Those points are then counted for her school. The more riders a school has, the more opportunities that team has to win points. Marlborough’s 20-member team is one of the larger teams in the league. With three out of four shows completed, Marlborough’s team currently stands in second place for overall points earned. La Reina High School leads, and Oaks Christian School trails in third. For at least the last 12 years, Marlborough has been either overall Champion or Reserve Champion by the end of the fourth show.
In addition to overall standings, each of the jumping and dressage divisions recognizes high-point schools as well as high-point individual riders. Marlborough currently leads the Varsity jumping division.
The team will be recognized at Marlborough’s Spring Sports Banquet, after which it will continue the tradition of celebrating with a huge cake frosted with a photograph of the team.