It was an exceptionally eventful weekend for your Equestrian Dawgs! While they weren’t able to take the overall championship, they put in their most consistent performance of the year and came out on top in so many circumstances in which they were the dark horse.
(Author’s Note: In case you can’t tell, I’m rapidly running out of horse-pun-based theme music. If you know anyone in the music industry, please... I’m begging you... tell them to invest in this untapped market and sate the thirst of the horse music loving populace!)
The Bulldogs entered the team tournament #6, meaning they would have to march through #3 Baylor, #2 Texas A&M, and #1 Auburn to claim the championship. Indeed, a murderer’s row. Well, the Dawgs dispatched Baylor and continued their inexplicable, season-long dominance of Texas A&M by beating the Aggies for the third time. And while they couldn’t unseat #1 Auburn (which has been head and shoulders above the competition all year) to win the overall championship, they were able to keep it close (losing 7-8). Given the shellacking the Dawgs sustained at the hands of the Tigers earlier in the season, I’ll take this as a sign of massive growth and improvement. Georgia finished the 2019 National Runner-Up in a year which I will charitably call “up and down.” With this result capping off that season, the future looks bright indeed.
Where the Dawgs really shined was outside the overall team competition. In fact, when it was all said and done, Georgia claimed 4 of the 7 available championships. After taking runner-up honors in the overall competition, the Dawgs performed brilliantly in the event-specific championships.
Sparked by the riding of Sara Lewis (Fr.) and Greyson Stroud (Sr.), the Georgia Horsemanship team took the National Championship by defeating TCU on raw score (2-2, 887.5-880.5). In Equitation Over Fences, the Dawgs avenged their loss to Auburn in the overall competition, defeating the Tigers 2-1 to take the Fences title. In Reining the Dawgs took another championship via raw score, beating SMU (2-2, 845.5-842). Finally, by advancing to the finals in Horsemanship and Reining, Georgia took the Overall Western championship. And that’s 4 out of 7... which, as an Auburn grad will struggle to calculate, is over half of the available National Championships. Not bad for a squad with a sub-.500 overall record.
As far as individual accolades, Stroud was named Most Outstanding Performer in reining for the 5th time this season. Additionally, Stroud, along with Jordan Carpenter and Annabeth Payne, was named to the NCEA All-Championship Team. Finally, Georgia’s Valducchy won Most Outstanding Horse for Equitation on the Flat... because apparently that’s an award they give out. Damn Good
It’s been a thrilling season of Georgia Equestrian, capped by a performance this weekend that really showed the hard work and perseverance of the riders paying off in a big way. Good things are on the horizon for the Equestrian Dawgs.
Until next season...