Mount Holyoke Dressage Team Blog

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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