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BILLINGS, Mont. — Before joining the Rocky Mountain College equestrian team during the 2010-11 school year, Lydia Harvey never competed in an equestrian show.
Now in her second year with the team, Harvey, 20, is preparing for the next competition, a competition which could advance her to Regionals.
During the first competition of the season on Oct. 8-9 in Twin Falls, Idaho, Harvey placed third and sixth in the Intermediate Walk Trot Canter. The competition is part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.
Harvey is now two points from going to the Regional competition, which will be held at Rocky Mountain College.
“I think things are going a lot better (this season),” Harvey said. “I’m more experienced — knowing what the judges are looking for and knowing what I need to do in the arena.”
Harvey, a sophomore at Rocky Mountain College (RMC) and 2010 graduate of West Sound Academy in Poulsbo, and the rest of the team from RMC will compete again Nov. 4-5 in the next IHSA show at the University of Montana. Three riders from RMC qualified during the latest competition — Erin Burns, Shauna Ketcham and Rachel Phillips. Points during the shows accumulate, so advancing to Regionals should not prove difficult, Harvey said.
A rider needs a total of 36 points in order to advance. The better a rider does, the more points earned. For example, first place earns seven points, second place earns five points.
Equestrian team captain Meredith Burton said Harvey needs to place fifth or higher in the next show to make it to Regionals. Burton said Harvey is a quiet, focused rider.
“She’s still trying to find her rhythm,” Burton said. “But she’s really dedicated.”
Once to the Regional level, riders have the opportunity to advance to the semi-National and National levels. Burton said riders representing the RMC team have gone to Nationals the past few years. During the summer, two girls were at Nationals.
Though she is confident in making it to Regionals, Harvey said making to semi-Nationals might be a stretch. The National level, she said, is most likely out of reach still.
Shows can be stressful, but Harvey said she’s learned to relax more, which, in turn, helps her performance. During the Oct. 8-9 competition, she said her second ride was a poor performance, because she was too tense. With a few adjustments, things changed.
“I came back thinking, I’m just going to have fun,” Harvey said. “And that’s all you need to do … I ended up placing third.”
Harvey grew up riding on Bainbridge Island at her aunts house. She took lessons at Sandamar Farm in Poulsbo, until she had to choose between lessons and owning her own horse. She began as an English rider — a form of horse riding — and began with show jumping.
Harvey said she spends more than six hours per week riding. She is at the barn at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in order to complete chores in the barn. Riding classes begin at 7 a.m.
When looking for a college, Harvey wanted to make sure wherever she went, she could ride horses. Rocky Mountain College worked for her, as equestrian degrees are available.