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Sonoma State University equestrians jump with joy on their way to Kentucky

  • Sonoma State University Equestrian team Suzie Littlewood (left), Taylor Lesser (center) and Nicole Luters (right) jumping with joy after competing at Stanford. Lesser and Luters are moving on to Nationals at Kentucky. Photo curtesy of Holly Hay, SSU

By: By Holly Hay (SSU student)
April 28, 2017

Two members of the Sonoma State University (SSU) equestrian team will be going to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s (IHSA) National Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky on May 4. Taylor Lesser and Nicole Luters will be showing in Novice Flat and Advanced Walk Trot Canter respectively. There are 416 teams in the United States that have a chance every year to compete for Nationals, totaling 6,649 Hunt Seat riders. 

The SSU equestrian team competes against eight different schools in their region, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Stanford and UC Davis. At the end of the year, those who have qualified compete against five different regions to gain one of two spots in their class and advance to Nationals. Out of the four riders competing in Nationals from SSU’s region, two are from Sonoma State University. 

"I'm very excited for Nationals and thankful for all the love and support coming from the Sonoma State equestrian team and Petaluma Hills Stables,” Luters said. “Plus I get to experience Nationals with another teammate which will make it even more amazing." 

This is not the first time equestrian team riders have gone to Nationals. In 2016, one rider competed and placed ninth out of 16 riders from all over the country. In 2014, two members competed. 

“I'm honestly still in shock that I'm going to Kentucky in just two weeks,” Lesser said. “It's been such an amazing year with the team and I couldn't ask for a better way to end it. Competing in IHSA is by no means easy so it's really an honor to be moving on to Nationals to ride against people from all over the country.” 

The Hunt Seat team is coached by Carrie Hover of Petaluma Hill Stables. “She encourages the members of the team, and provides unlimited support and advice in all aspects of their lives.” Lesser said. “She is truly the selfless leader and driving force that any team would aspire to have, or any person would aspire to be.” 

The equestrian team is always accepting new members who attend Sonoma State, regardless of age or past riding experience. They are made up of both the English team, and the Western team that is coached by Peter Larson. 

The equestrian team’s annual Spring Spectacular Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show will take place April 30 at the Santa Rosa Equestrian Center. It will be open to the public. The team would like to thank some of their sponsors, Brenda’s Tack Warehouse and Bowman Electric for their generous contributions and support to the team. Their support is what made this journey possible.