VVS First in Endurance
February 04, 2012
Pictured from left are: Andrea Cristiani, Sophia Wasteneys, Alexa Szombathy, Emma Warren, and Shenandoah Cornish.
VVS equestrians won the 35 mile Springdale Romp Pioneer Endurance Race in Safford, Arizona, on Saturday, February 4. “It was a tight competition and adrenaline was pumping from start to finish,” says Equestrian Director Caroline Diehl.
Five VVS students and two riding instructors competed in the race after months of training. For years, VVS has been competing in the AERC Endurance Circuit and has consistently finished in the top ten. VVS riders are usually the only teen-aged riders and compete against adults from all over the Southwest who take this sport very seriously. “Competition is fierce during the races, but there is a nice camaraderie amongst racers before and after,” says Caroline. "I stress to my students that it is impressive just to complete these races, so winning this one exceeded expectations."
“It was an amazing feeling to cross that finish line together in first place,” says senior Emma Warren. While six VVS riders crossed the finish line simultaneously in first place, the horse's heart rate must drop below 60 beats per minute before the rider’s finishing time is recorded.
“Endurance racing is not only about riding fast, it's about riding smart and with your horse's health at the forefront,” explains Caroline. All six of the VVS horses pulsed down within minutes.
Andrea Cristiani, on Renegade, took first with a time of 3 hours, 44 minutes. Sophia Wasteneys (on Sassy) took second, Caroline Diehl (on Zahaar) took third, Alexa Szombathy (on Shezaada) took fourth, Emma Warren (on Echo) took fifth, and Shenandoah Cornish (on Toby) took eighth. Jen Warren (on Guacho) came in a little later at eleventh place out of twenty riders.
VVS senior, Caridee Choi, deserves recognition for training Sassy (the second place horse) in the months leading up to the competition. “Unfortunately, Caridee was unable to ride, but her efforts and hard work are what made Sassy fit enough to take second place,” says Caroline. Dako Lesman was also invaluable during training rides, filling in and riding whatever horse needed work. “Although endurance racing is an individual sport, VVS chooses to ride as a team and it takes everyone working together to make it happen,” says Caroline. “It was a thrilling race. Our horses and riders put forth an incredible effort – it was truly impressive,” she adds.
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