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Hawk Herald

Equestrian States

With a Highlight on Senior and Team Captain Sadie Southwell
Image Courtesy of Ruth Gleason

“My good luck charm is a chicken nugget necklace. Every time I wear it I win my [competitions], but whenever I don’t, I lose,” Sadie Southwell (‘24), the captain of Eastern’s equestrian team, remarked about her recent luck while competing. 

Coached by Cori Curtis, Forest Hills Eastern’s Equestrian team placed second in states this past weekend. The placing was extremely special for the team as this was Eastern’s first year with an equestrian team. 

Inspired by others on her club team, Sadie took initiative to start an equestrian team at Eastern. She stated that the process was “honestly, not the easiest thing, but also not the hardest. We were very fortunate to be supported by Ben Sherman and an amazing HIAA director who helped us to start the team. Other teams were also very helpful.” She gave a special thanks to the Lowell equestrian team, mentioning how they helped answer all her questions about creating the team. 

While extremely special for the first-year team, the placing was also shocking for its members as the team initially did not qualify for states. The top two teams from each division move on from districts to regionals, which the team easily qualified for. Although districts was a rather effortless win, regionals presented the team with more complications. At regionals, the team tied for third, meaning they would not qualify for states; however, the first place team dropped out, allowing Eastern’s equestrian team to move on to states. Sadie said when she first received the news that she was shocked. She believed the season was over, planned on returning all the team’s equipment, and was ready to move on to her club season, so when she found out they would be going to states, she was both astounded and excited. 

Equestrianism is based on how well the rider navigates their horse, the rider’s appearance, and how effective their riding is. Eastern’s equestrian team competes in multiple disciplines, such as saddle seat, western, ranch riding, and hunt seat. Contrary to popular belief, Eastern’s equestrian team does not compete in jumping events. 

The team was named reserve state champions, meaning they placed second at states. Typically a team who does not place first or second in regionals would not go on to compete in states, let alone become the state reserve champions. The win meant a lot to the team because “it showed how hard [they] worked to get there.” It also was important to their coach because “it showed how much work she put into their team to make them better riders.”

One thing Sadie hopes everyone knows about equestrian is that “it’s harder than it looks. It involves a lot of late nights and early mornings. You’re on the go 24/7. It’s fun, but it’s also a lot of work both emotionally and when it comes to taking care of your horse. If your horse isn’t taken care of, you won’t do well. It’s very time consuming.”

When asked what her mindset is while competing, Sadie said, “my goal is to do the best I can.” She mentioned how she is not obsessed with placings, instead she would rather have a good ride with a bad placing than a bad ride with a good placing. She also explained how she no longer gets nervous when competing because she has “been riding so long that nerves have become normal.”

Sadie hopes to continue equestrian in college because of the role and impact it has had in her life. She is also considering scholarships available for equestrian both through MIHA and the Arabian Circuit. 

Although states marked the end of Eastern’s equestrian team’s season, Sadie will continue riding throughout the Fall for her club equestrian team.

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About the Contributor
Reagan Carpenter
Reagan Carpenter, Staff Writer
Reagan Carpenter is a first-year writer for the Hawk Herald and a senior at Forest Hills Eastern High School. She participates in the National Honor Society, Kids Food Basket, Volunteer Club, FHPS Shared Voices Committee, and is a leader for Project ChARLIE. She has also played on the Varsity soccer team since her freshman year and has loved every moment of that experience. Outside of school she enjoys spending time with her friends and family; you can often find her  watching a good movie or tv show in her free time.
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