Horse Show Team advances to Nationals

By Meaghan Sands

Cal Poly Pomona’s Horse Show Team hopes to break a six year dry spell as they head to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals competition May 2 to 5.

According to Laura Thomas, a fourth-year agribusiness student and the team’s captain, the CPP Horse Show Team is a club on campus made up of approximately 45 members who ride both competitively and for enjoyment.

The team consists of the Western Team and the Hunt Seat Team. Students can choose to be a part of either one.

Six students will be competing for CPP in the national competition. Of these six, five will be competing as a group for the Western Team.

Team Captain Laura Thomas is competing in Western along with McKenna Coveney, Shannon Palmer, Nicole Thurman and Ryan Lawson.

The team hopes that they will do well in the competition.

“We had four teams that we competed against in semifinals that all went to Nationals last year and we beat out two of them,” said Thomas. “So we’re really pumped up and we’ve got a really good team this year; people who are dedicated and who are really good riders and come out all the time.”

This is Thomas’ fourth year on the team. CPP has made it to the semifinals twice in the past four years.

This year’s Western team has three freshmen competing which is unusual. It means the team will have some good talent for the next few years.

“This is actually the beginning of hopefully some competitive years to come,” said Thomas.

Stephanie Sosa, a second-year animal science student, is the sixth competitor. She qualified as an individual to compete in Nationals for the Hunt Seat Team.

Sosa is a beginning rider on the team because she has never shown before, but she has been riding since a young age.

“I’m a little nervous and excited,” said Sosa. “My captains have been really good about helping me out and I feel prepared, but I think it will be neck and neck.”

She is proud she has been able to watch the Western Team compete and feels she has gained many good experiences from being on the team.

“Watching them is so much fun and I’m glad I’m not going alone,” said Sosa. “We get to share in each other’s experiences.”

Thomas voiced the displeasure the team felt when the Hunt Seat team missed advancing to Nationals by one placement, but also their excitement that Sosa would be able to compete.

“At least we have one of their Hunt Seat [Team] riders coming with us and we’ll be glad to support her on what she’s going to be doing out there,” said Thomas.

One of the welcoming aspects of CPP’s Horse Show Team is that anyone can join no matter their experience level.

“We’ve had people who have never touched a horse before to people who’ve competed in huge horse shows across the country,” said Thomas.

Members have to pay dues, because the team takes care of the horses they use by paying things such as their board, shoeing and vet bills. They also take care of cleaning their stalls by assigning chores to everyone.

Some of the benefits for members are the chance to meet new people, gain new levels of experience with the horses and compete with 350 college teams across the nation.

“We have people that had never shown or touched a horse in their life and they’re going to Nationals,” said Thomas.

The most difficult thing going into Nationals is the fact that this year’s team has never been to a Nationals competition and they will be traveling across the country to Pennsylvania for it.

“They’ve practiced really hard and they’ve done really well,” said Gina Cunningham, the team’s coach and a CPP alumna who was on the team when she was a student. “I think the biggest challenge is just staying on task and sticking to the plan.”

The team has grown in popularity from the past due to the promotion of team members who bring their friends to practices.

“I think it brings a sense of teamwork and definitely a sense of pride,” said Cunningham. “We don’t have a football team, were not a huge sports school. It gives some of our students something to look forward to. It gives them something to be proud about being a Cal Poly Pomona student.”

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Natalie Diaz/The Poly Post

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