Equestrian Looks to Carry Success into Spring

MANHATTAN, Kan. Under first year co-head coaches Ashley Foster and Casie Williamson, the Kansas State equestrian team continued its success in Varsity competition and posted a 4-2 record against some of the nations top teams. 


“Getting the opportunity to co-head coach with Ashley this year has been great,” Western head coach Casie Williamson said. “It was such a privilege to get the promotion, but it was also a relief to be able to split the extra work. We both want the same end result for our team, so working together has come easy.”


The Wildcats solidified their spot as a top program in the nation by beginning the fall season on a hot streak and winning their first three shows, defeating South Dakota State, 11-5, Baylor, 14-6, and defending national champion South Carolina, 13-7. The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season on Nov. 9 to Texas A&M at home but responded with a 15-4 win on the road against Tennessee-Martin. Kansas State finished the fall season with a road loss to Auburn, 12-6.


The Wildcats received contributions from both young and veteran riders throughout the fall. On the English side, Whiney Snyder, the lone senior on the squad, had a fantastic season. Her 10-2 overall record led the team and she also collected two MVP awards, one against South Carolina in Equation on the Flat and the other against Texas A&M in Equitation over Fences.


Junior rider Leslie Yates also had a solid fall season with her 7-5 overall record and captured an MVP in Equitation on the Flat against Tennessee-Martin.


Sophomores Kendall Marvin and Ashley Collett had solid seasons. Marvin collected four wins and earned two MVP awards both against South Dakota State in the season opener. Collett finished the season, 3-0 winning every match she competed in over Fences.


“Whitney Snyder and Leslie Yates have played a huge role in helping the team achieve success in both the Equitation over Fences phase and the Equitation on the Flat phase of our competitions,” English head coach Ashley Foster said. “In addition, Jenny Giraldin, has put in numerous strong performances in Equitation on the Flat. As these riders get additional competitions under their belt, they continue to show a higher level of maturity in their riding. It has been very exciting for me to watch these three riders grow over the past three years. This fall we also had strong performances from Paige Sullivan, Kendall Marvin, and Ashley Collett.” 


Kansas State’s Western squad had a near perfect fall season dropping only one match on the season to Texas A&M, 6-4. K-State’s Western team breezed by the competition in the first three shows grabbing wins from South Dakota State, 5-4, Baylor, 7-3, and South Carolina 9-1. After the loss to Texas A&M, K-State responded with an 8-1 win over Tennessee-Martin and a 4-4 tie against Auburn.


K-State’s western team was led by many young riders including sophomore Laura Browne. Browne posted an overall score of 4-1-1 and earned an MVP award in Horsemanship against South Dakota State. Sophomore Morgan Campbell led the way for western riders in Reining with two MVP awards, one against Baylor and the other against Auburn.


In her first season with the Wildcats, junior Alyssa Freeman finished the fall with an overall record of 9-3 and proved to be one of the team’s most valuable riders. Freeman also collected two MVP awards in the Reining category.


“This fall the entire western squad worked really hard to achieve their goals,” Williamson said. “Every team member put in extra hours and it was really rewarding to everyone in the end. The Western squad managed to walk away this fall with one loss to defending national champions, Texas A&M and that is outstanding. Everyone that showed really put a lot of thought into each performance, and their hard work became more and more obvious every time they entered the show pen.”


Both English and Western squads will look to build upon its success during the spring season with a strong schedule slated. Kansas State will begin competition on the road against undefeated Oklahoma State on Feb. 2. K-State will then travel to Waco, Texas, Feb. 22, to face Baylor, before traveling to College Station, Texas, the next day to compete against Texas A&M.


“We have a lot of good competition left this year,” Williamson said. “We kick off the spring by traveling to the only undefeated team in the country, Oklahoma State. The girls have been working on their own all break and will put in tons of extra hours before we travel to them on Feb. 2. Anytime we travel to a show we rely on the girls to be a little more mentally focused and be ready for anything on horses we don’t know.”


The Wildcats will host its first competition of the spring season on Feb. 29, against a familiar foe, Oklahoma State. K-State will then host Georgia on March 9 and Fresno State March 14. For the first time ever the Wildcats will host the Big 12 Invitational on March 29-30, before competing in the Varsity Equestrian National Championships April 17-19, in Waco, Texas. Last season, K-State finished fourth overall at the 2007 VENC, including a sixth place finish in Western and third in English. 


“We are still developing in our riding,” Foster said. “This spring will provide a great opportunity for some of our talented sophomores and freshmen to get valuable time in the ring. In our sport, experience plays a huge roll in how successful a team can be. I am very anxious to get a good deal of our riders more time in the ring. We have some very talented riders who are just starting out riding on an intercollegiate level. I am looking forward to watching them develop this semester.”