Equestrian Team Rides to Success

Junior Caroline MacRae canters in a routine at the Georgia International Horse Park. Photo: Michael Yoffee

Every once in awhile, there’s an announcement from the Pace equestrian team about the latest horse show they just competed in or one that is coming up. These announcements are often overlooked, but the equestrian team works hard to prepare for these shows. Horseback riding is not as common as other sports such as basketball or football and people usually don’t know the specifics about riding, which may be why the team doesn’t attract as much attention.

Pace has one equestrian team, consisting of nine middle and upper school riders. Pace is associated with a horse barn in Smyrna, where the riders typically practice together two times per month. In addition, the riders practice with their individual trainers on their own time. Horseback riding requires a lot of time because horse shows usually last from 7 a.m. to 4 or 5 in the afternoon. These shows aren’t just your average 15-minute drive either. “The shows in our region are closer by than others,” said faculty sponsor and biology teacher Meredith Carpenter. “But they are still pretty far away.”

Ms. Carpenter is new this year to Pace and to serving as faculty sponsor, taking over the job from former middle school teacher Emily Camp. The team is required to have a faculty sponsor in order to become an official team, and faculty sponsors are important because they help integrate the equestrian team into the Pace community by making announcements and recognizing the riders for what they do.

The time it takes to prepare for these horse shows pays off. Recently, Pace hosted a show at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, where they defeated both Lovett and Westminster. Last year, the middle school team qualified for Zones, which is one step above Regionals and includes riders from six neighboring states. “Competing in horse shows is nerve racking,” said freshman Emily Caton. “There isn’t a lot of room for mistakes because you only get one opportunity to show your skills.”

The Pace equestrian team does not have any seniors, but there are two juniors, Caroline MacRae and Ashley Yoffee, holding leadership roles. The majority of the team is on the younger side of the spectrum. “I think the younger riders will do a really good job as team captains when the time comes, and the team will be in really good hands,” said Ashley.