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Serenity Farm and Linden Hall Equestrian Team, a team made up of girls from Lebanon, Lititz, and Bernville, qualified for one of 12 nationwide spots at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Finals, held April 27 through 30 in Tryon, North Carolina.
Sophie Musser of the Serenity Farm Middle School Hunt team, a Lebanon equestrian, qualified individually for one of 12 nationwide spots. She placed first in the nation in IEA dressage seat equitation.
“I didn’t really think much of it at the moment but now I think it was really cool,” said Musser. “My mom sort of explained it to me as, I’m one of the only people in my school who has a nationals title.”
The Linden Hall team, made up of four other equestrians, placed 10th overall. Three of the four competitors received ribbons for their performance.
“They all did very well, it was just very hard competition,” coach Erika Kurtz said. Kurtz is also the owner of Serenity Farm.
This is the third year that the Linden Hall team has had individuals make it to nationals, but the first year the team has qualified, Kurtz noted. Cady Snavely, Lena Gebely, Lily Allen and Vivienne Young represented the team.
“It was really exciting that the girls worked so hard to make it,” Kurtz said. “A lot of them have been putting in extra practices and extra rides to get ready for it. They’ve been doing a great job all year competing.”
In IEA competitions, equestrians grades 4-12 are randomly assigned a horse and given limited warm-up time before demonstrating their handling abilities to judges.
This was Musser’s first year at nationals. She said one of her favorite parts of the competition was presenting the horse and its owners with a ribbon.
“It sort of felt like the horse had a part of you winning, and made it feel more personal for the horse’s owners,” she said.
Youth equestrians practice regularly leading up to competitions.
Some are even involved in other equestrian competitions, including Musser who is ranked fifth in the United States Equestrian Association rated circuit.
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