Oct. 31, 2013
DALLAS (SMU) - Following a three-week hiatus from competition, the No. 10 SMU equestrian team will resume action on Friday, as the Mustangs host South Dakota State at BuckBranch Farm at 10 a.m. CT.
"I think the three weeks off came at a very opportune time for us after a couple losses on the road," head coach Natalie Burton said. "It gave us time to get over that, get our heads together and get back to work. We've been focusing on the fundamentals, getting back to the basics and polishing some things up heading into Friday."
HEAD COACH Natalie Burton
Interim head coach Natalie Burton is in her first season in charge of the nationally-ranked SMU equestrian program, following three years as an assistant under predecessor Haley Schoolfield. The Hampshire, England, native came to the Hilltop after serving as an assistant trainer at Noah's Ark Farm near Knoxville, Tenn., while finishing her law degree at the University of Tennessee. As a rider, Burton won the flat individual national championship in 2004 and was part of Auburn's 2006 team championship. Burton and the Mustangs are 2-3 in the program's first year with a western team.
BACK AT HOME
After a three-competition road trip, the Mustangs return to BuckBranch Farm on Friday where they are 11-4 in the last three years, including 7-1 over the course of the last two seasons. SMU has won both of its competitions at home in 2013-14, including a win over one of next week's opponents, University of Tennessee at Martin.
"It's always a comfort thing to compete at home," Burton said. "You know the horses, you feel comfortable with whoever you draw. We feel confident, and have competed very well at home. It'll be good to get some of our confidence back before we return to the road next week."
COMFORTABLE IN THE HUNT SEAT
While the western program kicks-off its first season at SMU, the hunt seat team returns riders that reached the NCEA Second Round last season. The Mustangs hunt seat team individuals are 25-19-2 in competition this year. SMU is led on fences by sophomore Schaefer Raposa and freshman Sylvia de Toledo, both owning 4-1 marks in the event. Raposa leads all riders with two MVP honors this season. The fences individuals are 16-8, and the squad has gone 3-1-1 in 2013-14. On flat, sophomore Mary Abbruzzese is 3-1-1, while freshman Charlotte Jacobs is 2-0, combining for a 4-0 mark in the two hunter seat events.
BUILDING FROM SCRATCH ONCE AGAIN
First-year western coach Trista Adkins filled the newly created western coach position in the offseason, as Adkins and Burton team-up to bring the western discipline of equestrian to the Hilltop. Adkins is no stranger to starting a western program, after starting Baylor's program in 2006, helping lead the team to the National Championships, the only first-year western program to earn an invitational that season.
FOUR FRESHMEN HIGHLIGHT YOUNG WESTERN LINEUP
The inaugural season of the western program at SMU has seen four freshmen make their collegiate debuts this season, led by Hannah McCain's 4-1 horsemanship mark, including two MVP rides this season. Classmate Morgan Redwine is 5-5 in her western appearances this season, including a 3-2 reining mark, the only Mustang with multiple wins on the event. Kristen Schramm has gone 2-2 and Jaclyn White has picked up an additional win for the program in horsemanship. The lone upperclassman, junior Courtney Line, is 2-5 on the western side this year, a year after competing for the SMU hunter seat discipline. SMU western individuals are 15-27-3 through the first five competitions.
"I think they are starting to learn to stand on their own," Burton said of the western team. "They are learning to support one another, teach one another and be there for the extra hour of practice. I think that's really going to start paying off in their performances as the season progresses."
SMU will hit the road again next week, as the Mustangs take on Kansas State (Nov. 8) and University of Tennessee at Martin (Nov. 9) in Martin, Tenn. The Mustangs matchup with Kansas State is slated after Wildcats matchup with UT-Martin.