Sophomores Marina da Silva and Hailey Brown represented Averett during the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Zone 5 Finals March 30-31 at Virginia Intermont College. Both riders qualified in February for Zones during the regional competition at Virginia Tech by placing first and second. Zones are considered to be the semi-finals before qualifying to go to the national competition.
da Silva and Brown competed against students from Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. The top eight riders, two from each region, competed in each division. da Silva competed in the intermediate over-fences division while Brown competed in both novice over-fences and flat divisions.
Once the show was under way, da Silva was the first to ride for Averett. Despite drawing one of the harder horses in her division, she rode to the best of her ability. Her riding progressed throughout the course and she placed fifth out of seven riders.
In her over-fences round Brown pulled a great horse and placed third out of eight riders after a very good, consistent round. Following a slight break, Brown was back in the saddle for her flat class. She pulled a very different horse compared to her first ride. There was a lot more pressure to try and stand out to the judges because there were eight riders in the ring at once compared to her first round, when it was just one rider at a time. Brown ended up placing sixth out of eight riders.
With the places that both riders received, they were unable to qualify for the national competition in May. In order for one or both riders to qualify, they had to place first or second. At the start of the season, either rider thought they would make it this far. They hope to take what they learned this year and use it to make it to nationals next year.
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