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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Equestrian to compete at varsity championship

 
 

The Texas A&M Equestrian team will see a different tournament format when it travels to Albuquerque, N.M. Thursday to compete in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships.
“We’ve tweaked the format a little bit to make it more conducive to NCAA athletics,” Texas A&M Equestrian head coach Tana Rawson said.
Until now, the format for VENC has mirrored that of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships, which is the second national championship show of the season.
The old format categorized English and Western riders into beginner, advanced, novice, intermediate, and open divisions and required that each rider ride a different horse. The new style disregards divisions and places teams in head-to-head competition. Riders are matched in pairs and each pair rides the same horse.
“We’ve taken out all the different levels,” Rawson said. “The differences in horses will not be as significant as in IHSA, so that fits into our program a little better. It’s now down to a head-to-head format, two schools against each other, and the same horses, and just one level of athlete.”
Texas A&M senior Debbie Ramirez has embraced the changes and looks forward to helping her team give a repeat performance of its win in Western at VENC last year. The Aggie western team is seeded No. 1 and received a bye in the first round.
“We’re the defending Western Champions, so we want to keep that going, and win `English, too, and win the whole thing,” Ramirez said.
The Texas A&M English team finished fifth at VENC last year and will enter the first round of competition seeded sixth. If all goes well, the Aggies will find themselves facing off with the defending English and Overall Champions, University of South Carolina.
“We beat them on the Western side last year, but they’re always very tough,” Ramirez said. “They’re very tough on the English side, and I know that our English team has the ability to do it this year and just win the whole thing.”
South Carolina will begin its run for the championship as the No. 2 seed in the English, or Huntseat, bracket and as the No. 6 seed in the Western bracket. The bracket format is no stranger to South Carolina Equestrian head coach Boo Duncan, who has enjoyed using the format for the past three years.
“I am a big praiser of it,” Duncan said. “I think it definitely levels the playing field as far as the horses are concerned, it takes out the luck-of-the-draw because both teams go on the same horse.”
South Carolina’s weak spot is the western team, which finished fifth last year. Duncan is aware of teams like Texas A&M which has very strong western riders, but she remains confident that her team can make up the difference.
“It’s a lot harder in South Carolina to pull western riders from Texas and Oklahoma and the mid-west and get them out of their state and say ‘come on over to the east coast,’ but we’ve been able to do it,” Duncan said. “I think our western team is getting better and better.”
The tournament will be the Aggies final tune up before the IHSA in May.

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