Mount Holyoke Dressage Team Blog

Nationals Report

Mount Holyoke College sophomore Stephanie Calas brought home the blue with the second highest score of the day, a 72.391% for the Individual Lower Training Division on Saturday, April 25th at The Intercollegiate Dressage Association's 2015 National Competition held at the Austin Knowlton Equine Center, in Westerville, Ohio.

Mount Holyoke was also represented by first year student Amanda De Bellis in the first ever IDA United States Dressage Association's Quiz competition, and after taking the preliminary (Intro level) test over the winter, De Bellis qualified to take the final at the Nationals on Saturday. The written test was given in a classroom next to the indoor dressage court: it consisted of 95 equine related questions, and there were ten students at her level taking the test.
Calas drew a sweet little bay mare named Tedi, with a ride time of 3:15 pm, and rode with feeling, accuracy, and relaxation, qualities she was rewarded for in the marks. The Judge at C, Sarah Michaels awarded a score of 74+%. The Judge at E, Maryal Barnet gave her a 70+% and the scores together gave the average of 72.391.

For her efforts, she won a Custom Saddlery dressage saddle for the top placing at Lower Training Level, and for the Reserve high point, she won a set of clippers, a halter and two saddle pads.

Calas is pictured above with her parents at this year's IDA Nationals.

Final Shows - Double Header of UMass and UConn

MHC Dressage Team Moves Up in the Region at the IDA Double Header Over the weekend of March 28th and 29th, 2015 the Mount Holyoke Dressage Team moved to 2nd place in the region at the UMass show and UConn shows respectively. The results of these shows qualifies 2 out of 4 of our riders for individual titles at the Nationals to be held in Otterbein, Ohio April 24th through 26th. Along with the qualified individuals, namely Laura Phillips(1st level) and Stephanie Calas (Lower Training level), we also have Amanda Debelis (Intro level), who has qualified to be one of 6 students in the Nation to take the USDF final Quiz at the Nationals.

On Saturday, the show was held at Muddy Brook Farm in Amherst, Mass, this years home of UMASS Dressage. Due to the the indoor arena being even shorter than the regulation short court size, the use of the outdoor arena was necessary. Since we have and continue to have a snowy winter and spring, their outdoor arena area had to be plowed to remove the snow from the surface. This outdoor arena barely allowed for the short court, so the First and Upper Training levels had to relearn their modified tests accordingly. The show was weather dependent, and since the forecast was dicey, I thought we might be getting a call during the week saying the show would be cancelled, however, we never got a call; we showed up to find a pretty muddy snow covered ring and it continued to snow all day long!

In attendance were 2 teams from Uconn, Umass, and one team from VT Tech, UVM and Post. Due to the participation of Vermont Tech for the first time this year, it meant that our school was in a rotation to front only one team. The roster that day was Mika McKinney '18, Chrysanthia Mayor '16, Stephanie Calas '16, and Amanda DeBelis '18.

For our First level rider Mika Mckinney riding the Modified 1st level test, her draw on a 14.2 hand Morgan (that seemed 13.2 to us), seemed ironic. It also made using the mounting block interesting for the rather tall, lanky Mika! We all decided that the pony resembled Mika's favorite mount Ravel, so Mika applied similar tactics to have command of him. Being tactful was necessary as he would toss his head and kick out if he wasn't asked appropriately.While it was not easy, Mika put in a pretty ride in the snow! Her placing was 4th and she was only 1 point out of first place, which shows what a tight competition it was.

Chrys Mayor finally drew a somewhat more reasonable mount than she had in awhile, however he was still a bit difficult, and stiff, but she kept her cool and rode an accurate test although she admitted to having a moment of "which test am I riding"! The tests have been changed back and forth with these last two shows, and the Upper training test is usually ridden in a large size arena, so transitions come up fast! Chrys received 4th place.

Intro level rider Amanda DeBelis seemed to ride in the heaviest snow of the day, however couldn't tell as she positioned her mount for an accurately ridden test. Even with his hooves sliding in the mud, Amanda asked the most of the Haflinger she rode. Her placing was 8th, with a score of 5?% which I still do not understand, as the test seemed better to me than many others.

Stephanie Calas drew a horse amazingly similar to our Seuss, and somehow got through to him in the warm up getting him connected and round in all three gaits. In the arena, she was second to last to go, and towards the end of her test as she was about to canter, unbeknownst to her, someone started being in horses from the field behind letter A, right where her transition was to happen, and her horse lost it's attention and balance, which Steph regained, but both canters had unwanted lead changes and many problems, due to her excellent skills and basics, she was still rewarded with 2nd place. This score pointed her out from Lower Training, and she is now in 2nd place for the region!

The Dressage Equitation classes serve to add funds for the IDA for regional awards, and with the new requirement for EMT's to be on the scene, some costing an additional $1,000 per day. We were just told this weekend that the IDA is looking to make this class an official class at the Nationals starting next year.
Our club and team members who participated in the Dressage Equitation classes at the end of the day were as follows:
First and Upper:
Mika McKinney '18- 2nd, Ellie Demmons '17-3rd Stephanie Stuckwisch '15- 5th
Maddy Marshall also competed on a very difficult ride!
Lower and Intro:
Scarlett Glacken '17- 1st, Camille Reppert '18-2nd Shannon McCarley '17-4th

Now the report about UCONN:
On Sunday March 29th our teamand club members rallied in the dark at 6:00 am to board the Mount Holyoke Vans, and after collecting everyone made a brief stop for coffee,. As we proceeded to get closer to UConn, there was a new layer of snow, thankfully it was sunny and the roads were not icy, just wet. At Uconn, due to the snow, the small court was utilized in the indoor ring, and the warm ups were held in the space between A and the wall at the end. about 20 meters by 30 meters.

The tests used were slightly different for the riders, again the First and Upper training in the small arena. Laura Philips had the first ride a a morgan mare that she made look easy to ride. She was rewarded for this effort with the ribbon for 1st place. Right after her ride came Taylor Dickenson, who had a very difficult belligerent horse that came together for her in the warm up, and for most of the trot work, but after the free walk he didn't want to play nicely in the sandbox anymore, so he kicked out in her canter transition and that pretty much left her out of the running, in 7th place. She was rewarded for the halts, and her riding in the judges comments however!

In the Upper training class doing Training level test 3, we had Chrys Mayor on a Morgan who liked to evade the bending aids, still Chrys guided in an accurate test with a 3rd place. Maddy Marshall drew a difficult and sassy horse to 9th place, in a saddle that had a 4 inch gap in the stirrups so had to ride too short! Good thing she has x-country experience! Let's just say we are glad she lived to tell about it! Later in the Upper Training division, Uconn had an opening for a rider, and so Stephanie Stuckwisch rode gallantly to 4th place, with the same difficult horse that Maddy rode... Stephanie had the highest score on that horse of the day.

The Intro class gave Scarlet Glacken a Freisian Morgan cross who did not love the contact at first, however Scarlett rode him in a nice stretchy outline that they came to an agreement on in the warm up, and she was rewarded for her riding with 2nd place.

Amanda Debelis drew what we thought might be an easy ride as the horse seemed similar to her own horse Vegas, but we soon figured out that he was having none of been ridden into the contact in a round topline, he said ok to her contact, just not to the topline, so she came in out of the ribbons in 7th place. Still, with these rides Amanda is 3rd in the region at Intro level! And again, Amanda has qualified to be one of 6 students to take the USDF final Quiz at the Nationals in Otterbein Ohio, and will be the Intro rider for our team, should we win the wild card slot.

The final class was the Lower Training with Training level test 1 to ride, and we had Shannon McCarley step in since Stephanie Calas pointed out of her division the day before. Shannon was ready to compete, and rode a small Chestnut Morgan to place 4th. For the Equitation clases, we had the following riders and placings:
Mika Mckensie in 1st place followed by Ellie Demmons in 2nd, Stephanie Stuckwisch '15 in 5th,out of what seemed like 16 riders. Acacia Sheppard '18, Valerie Avery and Maddy Marshall also rode. At certain points there were the classic, entertaining moments of bolting bucking, and stirrups being lost, which always seems to add to the excitement of the day and is a real crowd pleaser.
Camille Reppert with a pink ribbon, Scarlett Glackin, with a blue!

For the year end awards, these MHC riders received big ribbons for their regional positions:
Laura Phillips, Reserve Champion 1st level
Taylor Dickenson Reserve Champion Senior 1st level
Stephanie Calas reserve champion Lower Training level
Amanda DeBelis 3rd place in the Region

Home Show February 21st

fter a very very cold start, our homeshow ran smooth and fast throughout the entire day. We had strong rides from all of competitors, though yet again we were not so lucky with our draws. We drew first and last ride of the day, which is always a big challenge. First level started out with a strong ride from Laura Phillips, who placed 4th on Sadie. Mika McKinney rode a beautiful test on beautiful Beau, for second place. Upper training started off with me on Silver, and after some feelings about the judges booth we ended just out of the ribbons. Ellie Demmons had a pleasant ride on Oberon to place in a solid 4th place. After lunch we started Intro with Amanda Debellis who had a very nice ride on Mondu to finish in a solid 5th place, and Scarlett Glackin had a good steady ride finishing just out of the ribbons. We finished the day off Lower Training. Steph Calas had a great ride on little Lucy to finish in 6th, and Shannon McCarley pulled off a beautiful ride on Roo to finish second.

Overall it was a crazy close race right until the very end. MHC B, UMass A, and UConn B as always were neck and neck through the morning. At the end of the day UConn pulled a huge upset and won lower and intro after a rocky start and took first place in teams. MHC B ended up in a very close second, and Umass A was not far behind in 3rd. MHC A ended up in the middle of the pack at 7th. MHC A fought hard until the very end with a difficult horse group; each school who drew group 1 did not place as a team, which was interesting to see. Of course everything is still a learning process in finding the perfect balance with our horse groups. Unfortunately we were not able to run our Eq class because of the unexpected early snow. We wanted to get everyone home safe before dark and just ran out of time. hopefully we will be able to run it next time.

I really appreciate all the help and support we had from our barn staff, club members and a handful of other riders who came to help(Anne Waldo, Nellie Simons, and Alice VanBokkelen). I also want to take a moment to send a special thanks to one of our team members, Shannon McCarley. We had a couple of hickups this morning and she really strove above and beyond to be not only a strong competitor to pull us into second place but also was everywhere behind the scenes today and helped the show run as smooth as it could.

Thank you to everyone who came out. We couldn't have done it without you.

Home Show November 1st

For the second to last show of the semester, it was Mount Holyoke’s very own Dressage team’s turn to host the IDA. Despite the rainy, cold, gloomy start to November, there was still plenty of fun to be had around the horse show, including Disney (and other awesome) music playing between rides, festive arena decorations, and an end-of-day Halloween costume class. Congratulations to Mika McKinney, Camille Reppert, and Pongo for taking first place for their roles as Disney Princesses—and horse. All the costumes were very imaginative, and the judges had a three-way As usual, the teams were split into an A and B parts. MHC A was comprised of: Alice VanBokkelen (First Level), Chrys Mayor (Upper Training), Stephanie Calas (Lower Training) and Robin Graney (Intro). Our B team riders were: Mika McKinney (First Level), Stephanie Stuckwisch (Upper Training), Camille Reppert (Lower Training), and Amanda DeBellis (Intro). On our fabulous “ground team” we had Valerie Avery, Julia Sappey, Laura Bartlett, Alice Simmons, Ellie Demmons, Cally Berg, Laura Phillips, Lilly Simons, Shannon McCarley, Libby Corvin, Nellie Simmons, Rachel Schmieder-Gropen, and of course, our coach, Meg Hilly. Without them, our show would not have been as smooth and lovely as it was. {Thank you all!}

The morning started out with Mount Holyoke’s Mika McKinney making her debut in the IDA show ring at first level. She had a tricky draw but rode smoothly, her ride putting her in fifth place. Alice VanBokkelen rode strong and clean with a third place finish in the division.

Upper Training Level had a bit of a rough patch due to various equine issues, but our MHC ladies rode right through it, and our ground crew kept everything (and everyone) moving along smoothly. Chrys Mayor put in a great test and landed a spot in fifth place, and Stephanie Stuckwisch placed fourth with her ride.

Mount Holyoke’s Introductory Level riders were ready to go this afternoon, and both drew lovely horses. Robyn Graney had a focused, accurate test, earning sixth place. Amanda DeBellis put in a smooth ride, as well, coming in at second place.

For Lower Training Level, we had another official IDA debut rider, Camille Reppert take the arena. She had a strong ride, and took sixth place. Stephanie Calas took the entire show by storm with her ride, earning a 76% on her test, taking first place, and High Point Rider of the show. (Yay!)

Overall, Mount Holyoke’s A Team took third place, while B Team took fifth. Everyone both on the ground and mounted had a lot of fun. The sense of team spirit around the show was a wonderful environment to be in, and even the horses responded well to it. Thank you to Coach Meg, our wonderful team members who helped on the ground and mounted, and to all the ponies who tried their hearts out today. Congratulations to everyone who rode…we’ll see you back in the MHC arena in February!

Stay tuned…Mount Holyoke heads to UConn tomorrow (November 2) for the last show of the semester.

UMass Oct 25

After a rough first show of the season, Mount Holyoke’s Dressage team was back in action in top form for the October 25th IDA show hosted by UMass. Saturday morning, we sent an A Team (Alice VanBokkelen-First Level, Chrysanthi Mayor – Upper Training Level, Julia Sappey – Lower Training Level, and Amanda DeBellis-Intro) and a B Team (Laura Phillips- First Level, Stephanie Stuckwisch – Upper Training Level, Shannon McCarley- Lower Training Level, and Alice Simmons – Intro Level) to UMass. Along with our two teams, we had Lilly Simons with us to represent our school at First Level, and several of our riders to compete in the afternoon Dressage Equitation classes, including a Mount Holyoke Alumna, Erin Burke. (Laura Phillips and Lilly Simons at First Level, Camille Reppert and Shannon McCarley at Lower Training, and Robin Graney and Amanda DeBellis at Intro Level).

The morning started off strong with Alice VanBokkelen putting in a fantastic ride to take first place at First Level, Laura Phillips riding strong to finish eighth, just out of the ribbons, and Lilly Simons taking home second for a wonderful individual test. The good streak continued when captain Chrysanthi Mayor went into the ring at Upper Training Level with a tricky horse, and rode a smooth test to come in at second place. Stephanie Stuckwisch had a rather fussy pony, but still rode gracefully, though she finished out of the ribbons.

After the lunch break, the Intro riders took the arena. It was rider Alice Simmons’ IDA debut…she rode an accurate test with a lovely horse, though she finished just out of placing. It was a great beginning to her show career, and she gained some IDA mileage. Next up was Amanda DeBellis, who had a strong, consistent ride on and took home the blue ribbon for the Introductory Division.

Our Lower Training riders were riding at that level only for the first time on Saturday, but they did brilliantly. Julia Sappey rode first, and had a tricky ride, but she stayed consistent, finishing just out of the line of placement. Shannon McCarley had her IDA debut at UMass as well, and her fluent test scored her first place.

The Equitation Classes were fun for everyone who rode, and produced some great results for Mount Holyoke. Alumna Erin took first place in the Alumni Class, representing our alma mater wonderfully. Laura Phillips took fifth in the First Level Equitation class, and Lilly Simons took Second. Camille Reppert took home the blue ribbon in the Lower Training Equitation, and Shannon McCarley placed fourth. Intro Equitation was also a success, putting Robin Graney in sixth, and Amanda DeBellis in first.

Mount Holyoke finished strong at UMass, (though B team did not place) with MHC A Team taking first place overall, and Amanda DeBellis representing Mount Holyoke Dressage in taking High Point Rider of the day. Everyone rode their best, and the team showed great support for one another and for our sport. Congratulations to all who rode, and thanks to Coach Meg Hilly for being with us every step of the way. Way to go, Mount Holyoke!

First Show of the 2014-15 Season!

The 2014-2015 show season has officially begun for Mount Holyoke's Dressage team! Firstly, a big welcome to all our new riders and a loving welcome back for returning riders. Also, a great big dressage team welcome to our new coach, Meg Hilly. Hailing from Vermont and a seasoned Dressage rider and USDF judge, we are looking forward to competing this season under her guidance.

On to the show... Mount Holyoke sent an A Team (First Level: Lilly Simons, Upper Training: Chrys Mayor, Lower Training: Stephanie Calas, and Intro: Amanda DeBellis) and a B Team (First: Laura Phillips, Upper Training: Stephanie Stuckwisch, Lower Training: Cally Berg, and Intro: Robin Graney) up to The University of Vermont for the season's first IDA show.

The morning started out well for our First Level riders, with Lilly Simons riding a strong test to place 3rd , and Laura Phillips riding a lovely test on a tricky pony, though ending up just shy of placing. Upper Training was a bit of a complicated level... one horse was pulled immediately, leaving our Stephanie Stuckwisch with a rather stiff and fussy replacement. Meanwhile, Chrys Mayor's horse turned up lame in the test. Neither placed, but both ladies rode strong tests and had fabulous attitudes.

Our Lower Training and Introductory Level riders had a great afternoon, with two riders (Robin Graney and Amanda DeBellis, both Intro riders) making a debut in their IDA careers. Cally Berg and Stephanie Calas put in solid rides for 4th and 3rd places, respectively in their Lower Training Level tests. Robin Graney and Amanda DeBellis continued the team's good afternoon rides, putting in lovely tests, and scoring a 73 and 72, coming in 3rd and 7th respectively. The percentages were very close together, and scoring was certainly a tough call for the judges... well done to all our riders!

The end results for the day put Mount Holyoke's Team A in 5th place, and Team B in 7th place. Our riders had great attitudes and great rides, making the day a great success. Thank you to UVM for putting on a smooth horse show, and congratulations to everyone who competed, regardless of placing. And of course, a giant thank you to our coach, Meg Hilly, for taking the time to coach us both in and out of competition. We look forward to working with you more, and for our show season to continue!

Report from Nationals 2014

By Chrys Mayor '16

In late April 2014, Mount Holyoke was pleased to be able to send another strong team to IDA Nationals after a very competitive season. The region was in hot competition until the very end, with the last show only two weeks before the national competition. Mount Holyoke received a wild card inviting them to nationals after finishing second in the region to UConn. With only a week and a half to prepare, Mount Holyoke went in with high hopes and a few nerves.

The first day was the individual competition, in which Mount Holyoke had three riders competing, Callie Berg '15, Julia Sappey '16, and Chrysanthi Mayor '16. It was a challenging competition but our riders drew some decent draws and placed well. Out of 12 riders in lower training, Chrysanthi Mayor '16 finished fourth, and out of 12 riders in intro Julia Sappey '16 finished sixth and Callie Berg '15 finished fourth. Day two was team day. The parade revealed that we had a good group of horses for the competition and we were looking forward to riding against UConn once more in the national setting. The day began with Laura Phillips '16 riding at first level, and place third. Next up was Sandra Akert-Smith '16 riding at upper training, and finished strong in fourth place. The second half of the day kicked off with our captain, Carey Lang '14 riding at lower training who had a strong ride on a difficult draw and sixth. The day ended with the top four teams in close competition with only Callie Berg left to ride at intro. She was able to pull of a good ride on a stiff draw and placed fifth.

The combination of strong rides pulled us into a solid third place behind Virginia Intermont College and Otterbein College. We were able to pull in front of UConn, who, after four solid rides, finished 5th. After a heated competition, Mount Holyoke was able to end a difficult season on a high note.


End of Spring Season Standings - Region B

University of Connecticut - 1st - 26 pts - Qualified for Nationals

Mount Holyoke College - 2nd - 24 pts - Qualified for Nationals with a Wildcard Position

University of Massachusetts - 3rd - 14 pts

University of Vermont - 3rd - 14pts

Chrys Mayor '16 (Lower Training) and Julia Sappey '16 (Intro) both finished 1st in the region as individuals, and will be competing at nationals in their respective divisions. Callie Berg '15 (Intro) finished 2nd and has earned a wildcard position to compete as an individual at Nationals.

Dee Loveless, the Mount Holyoke Dressage Team coach, finish her last year with the team by winning Coach of the Year for Region B!

Good luck in Virginia Mount Holyoke Dressage!


National Champion Recognition by Mount Holyoke Lacrosse Team

By Libby Corvin '17

The MHC Dressage Team was recognized on April 8th, 2014 at the half time of the Lacrosse game by the college for being awarded the Beukema National Team Championship Trophy. This award is given to the highest placing team in the nation. The team continues to make history here at Mount Holyoke College!


Hot Chocolate Run - December 8th 2013

By Libby Corvin '17

Dressage Team supports Northampton's 10th Annual Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage on December 8th, 2013.


Team Introduces New Educational Component

By Meg McGuire '14

This semester, the dressage team has implemented a fun new twist to team meetings: DQx2 or “Dressage Questions for Dressage Queens.” While not strictly limited to discussion questions, DQx2 is a system of facilitated dialogues and activities led by different team members, to engage directly with topics of interest as a dressage rider.

This semester was slightly unusual in that all our shows were packed together, one weekend after the other. While this meant meeting time during show season was eaten up by show-related business, on the flip side, it made for loads of extra time once shows came to a close. For this reason, the bulk of our DQx2 sessions took place in the latter half of our semester. Topics covered by the team thus far include:

  • Riding horseless tests. We set up the arena with cones for center line and various meter-sized circles. Each division (Introductory, Lower Training, Upper Training and First Level) ‘rode’ a test together to get a feel for the correct geometry!
  • How to for the DQ: Polo Wrapping. The team got a little goofy polo wrapping each other’s legs as practice before heading out to the barn to demonstrate their polo wrapping skills.
  • How to for the DQ: Hunter Braids. Most of our horses are also used in our hunter shows, therefore manes are quite short. For this reason, during our shows we usually give them hunter braids. Led by those who know how to braid with yarn, we practiced on our very patient horses.
  • Getting Inside a Judge’s Head: Scoring! This session we each watched and scored videos of Training and First level tests. Our coach Dee (an “R” USEF judge) then walked us through the test again, giving her score justifications and explaining common scoring dilemmas.

Some topics on the horizon for next semester include:

  • Making the Most of Your Warm up: What to do with a tricky IDA draw
  • Photo Critiques of Dressage Icons and Ourselves
  • Helpful Stretches In and Out of the Saddle
  • How to for the DQ: Standing Wraps
  • How to for the DQ: Button Braids
  • Calming Show Jitters


End of Fall Season Standings - Region B

University of Connecticut - 1st - 24 pts

Mount Holyoke College - 2nd - 20 pts

University of Massachusetts - 3rd - 14 pts

University of Vermont - 3rd - 14pts


An Update from Mount Holyoke

By Libby Corvin '17

The Fall season is about to come to a close, ending with the Mount Holyoke home show this weekend on November 2nd. The University of Connecticut is in the lead in the IDA with 24 points with Mount Holyoke a few points behind with 17. Mount Holyoke is excited to be hosting this weekend and hopes to pull ahead in points. Much luck to the MHC team! Go Lyons! 


University of Connecticut - Quote of the Day

"What lead am I on?" - Carey Lang '15, Captain (4th Place Dressage Equitation)


Mountain Day - October 1st 2013

By Libby Corvin '17

The Dressage Team with President Lynn Pasquerella on Mount Holyoke's annual Mountain Day, celebrating one of the school's oldest traditions. Classes are cancelled, and students and staff enjoy the hike up Mount Holyoke in Skinner Park.


Team Bonding - Lithia Spring Hike & S'mores

By Libby Corvin '17

First team bonding of the year included a long hike up the Lithia Springs Reservoir. S'mores and great views were enjoyed at the top.

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