By Austin Eck
Baylor’s equestrian team scrimmaged Saturday with an exhibition meet against Southern Methodist University. Baylor won Western 6-4 but lost Hunterseat 7-5 and the overall competition after a tiebreaker was enforced.
Baylor’s head coach Ellen White remained upbeat after the meet.
“It was exactly what we wanted to do,” said White.
It was an opportunity to see which players were going to step up and to work out the kinks of hosting an event, White said.
One of the players who stepped up was freshman Jessica Leach who played a crucial role in Baylor winning the Western portion of the event. Leach won her matchups in horsemanship and reining and took Most Outstanding Player honors in both contests.
“I am really excited for Jessica Leach who was MVP for horsemanship and reigning,” White said.
Leach is originally from London, and the scrimmage against SMU was her first meet as a Baylor student.
“This is a whole new thing,” said Leach. “Obviously, we are freshman, so coming in and being MVP first time out is so exciting. Really, I am kind of honored.”
Though Leach had a strong showing in today’s meet, she knows there is always room for improvement.
“With riding horses you never know everything,” she said. “My position is something I definitely need to work on.”
Leach had never ridden the horses prior to today, but she was able to figure the horses’ behaviors during the warm-up period.
“I felt like SMU did not have an advantage over me here,” she said.
While Baylor did win Western, individual points are awarded to riders based off their performance in the event. At the end of the Western event, SMU had outscored Baylor by 107 individual points.
In equitation over the fences, the first portion of Hunterseat, Baylor tied 3-3, but would fall 4-2 in equitation on the flat. SMU’s four points gave them a two-point edge to win Hunterseat 7-5.
Baylor freshman Sahara Reiz was one-of-two players for Baylor who would win their matchup in equitation on the flat. However, Reiz’s main competition was her nerves.
“I was very nervous, but I was really excited,” Reiz said. “It was my chance to show my coaches and my teammates what I can do.”
Reiz’s performance succeeded at catching the attention of her coaches.
“Sahara Reiz that was a great job for her,” said head coach White. “When it got down to the time, she just nailed it.”
According to Reiz the highpoint of her day was leaving the rink after competing and having her teammates cheer for her.
At the end of competition the score was 11-11. To determine the winner of the meet, a score was tabulated based off of individual scores in the events. SMU won the tiebreaking point 1,460-1,187.25.
Baylor’s focus now shifts to putting the final pieces in place for the Willis Invitational, the next meet and the first regular season meet.
“We have to know who our riders are and place a lineup,” White said. “We will start using our regular show riders, but we’ve had some graduate. Now, we know some of those freshmen that we can put in those places. There are certainly good enough to do it.”
The Willis Invitational will start at 10 a.m., Sept. 27-28 at Willis Family Equestrian Center.