By Caroline Lindstrom
On Sunday, February 2, Katherine Berg placed second in The Sun Circuit Shootout in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I made a rookie mistake that ultimately cost me the win,” Berg said, “I was miserable and disappointed that I let my team down but more so because I didn’t even put up a fight.”
The competition was three rounds of head-to-head matches, where the riders performed a pattern. Each round a new pattern was given and the judges drew a new horse. The patterns were scored from a base score of 70. Above a score of 70, the rider did well and below 70, there were penalties.
“Katherine took resounding wins in her first two rounds but took six costly missteps in her last pattern,” said Baylor head coach Ellen White.
White described, getting off pattern is like scoring a goal for the opposing team in soccer or basketball. Although Berg had a good lead on her horse, a rider’s score zeros out because of a missed pattern. Berg sprinted into the arena with a sliding stop but instead of starting a spin, she took steps back, which was the beginning of the previous pattern.
Gillian Chant, another member of the equestrian team, said Berg was one of the best riders at the competition. Chant said she showed good intuition and adaptability with the quality of her ride, even on a random horse.
This was the first competition of The Sun Circuit Shootout and the team believes there are some kinks to work out. The riders went back to back between rounds and had little time to warm-up on the new horse. There were miscommunications on the final round of the pattern and the order of the riders.
“I had competed second in the first two rounds but they switched me to the first rider for the last round. As I was lining up to run out they informed me the pattern was different than what we all thought it was,” Berg said.
White said Berg isn’t using the miscommunication as an excuse for losing but as motivation for the rest of the season.
Even though Baylor came out as the runner-up, the team is excited for this spring. Berg competed against a Delaware State and Fresno State rider, which gave her an inside look for the team’s later matches against these schools.
“We are a strong team to contend with but we are also competing against other highly ranked teams,” White said.
Berg said the horses at the shootout gave her hope for the rest of the season because they were tough to ride. With lots of meets on the road, the team will have to adapt to riding horses they are not accustomed to.
“We have a goal, which is the championships,” Chant said, “Reaching that goal starts with practice and workouts and staying focused.”
White hopes to spend Easter weekend with the team at the National Championship. She said the team will have to be sharp but their challenging schedule should set them up to win.