RedHawk Jackie Yeager Flies High at WEF
The Winter Equestrian Festival Collegiate Equitation Challenge is an event held annually during the fifth week of the WEF in sunny Palm Beach, Florida. Sixteen collegiate equestrians are invited to compete in a bracket-style head to head competition over fences not to exceed 3’6″.
Two students will ride one horse, and whichever student has the better round on that horse will advance to the next bracket. All horses and tack are lent to the event by local professionals and are unfamiliar to the students. However, the students have four minutes prior to each round to warm up with their horse, including the opportunity to jump four fences before going in the show ring.
This February, MUET member Jackie Yeager was invited to participate in the WEF competition. Jackie and coach Heather Pinnick headed down to Florida to take on fifteen riders from great programs all over the country. I caught up with Jackie to ask about her experience.
“Since I have previously gone to a few NCEA scrimmages with the team before, I knew the format and knew that I liked how they run things. I really like how each rider is paired with another on the same horse. It seems to make things more fair and the four minutes of warm-up before you go into the ring really allows you to get a feel of the horse before being judged,” Jackie explained. Having the opportunity to warm up before your ride is a luxury that most IHSA riders don’t have, so just those few minutes can give an extra edge to the competitors.
When asked about her riding experience, Jackie shared that “during the first round, I was paired with Sam Schaefer (Baylor) who is an incredible rider. I went first out of the two of us on a chestnut jumper named Fitch and scored a 75 due to some lead change issues we hadn’t quite smoothed out yet. Next, Sam scored a 92, so unfortunately I did not move on, but being able to stay and watch all the way until the final round was really cool.” Jackie had a very nice round with Fitch and coach Heather was standing by the sidelines cheering her on every step of the way.
It sounds like it was a great learning experience for Jackie. All the horses are beautiful, professional show horses which makes it exciting to stay and watch the rounds.
Congratulations to Jackie on your first WEF invitational ride and to Heather on another great Florida trip! Things are warming up here in Oxford so we are hoping to see some of that great equitation here at our home barn soon.