(May 3, 2019) Olivia Brown, 16, and Lilly Paquette, 13, performed well during the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Nationals at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last weekend.
Brown, a sophomore at Stephen Decatur High School, took home the reserve champion title in the Varsity Open Championship.
“I was really nervous when they were announcing the placements last to first,” Brown said. “So when it came down to just two of us left, I couldn’t believe that I had made it to the top two. I was really happy to be reserve champion. It took a while to sink in, but it feels pretty good.”
Brown’s second-place performance was judged on the ability to jump over fences and on the flat class, comprised of walking, trotting and cantering, which means how wells she could get the horse to move where she wanted it to go.
“The judge excused all but five riders in the ring to ‘test’ on the flat and I was one of the five remaining, so we had to do a lot of riding with no stirrups,” Brown said. “It basically shows your ability to ride with or without stirrups.”
Brown is proud of her achievements and owes her success to the people closest to her.
“I’d like to thank my coaches who have trained me and my mom for taking me to all of these shows,” Brown said. “I’m hoping I qualify next year, since finals will be in Los Angeles and I’ve never been there.”
Paquette, a seventh grader at Stephen Decatur Middle School, came in fourth in the Future Novice Over Fences Class.
“I’m pretty proud. I thought it took a lot of work to get there,” Paquette said. “I can’t believe I got that far from riding all this time and now I finally proved that I can be that great of a rider.”
During the competition, Paquette was judged on her ability to maneuver her horse over seven fences. As riders were provided a horse at the show, the seventh grader attributed her success to getting accustomed to riding different horses last year.
“My pony was in rehab, so I’ve been riding a lot of other horses lately,” Paquette said. “I made it so far this year because I have been forced to ride different ponies all the time.”
Above all, Paquette appreciates the support of those who encouraged her.
“I want to thank my trainers, Kristy Naughton and Kirstin Marzbanian,” Paquette said.