BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Bridgewater College junior rider Taylor Rose has been a model of consistency this season for the Eagles’ equestrian program. Not only has she been consistent, she has been consistently good.
Rose started the fall IHSA season with two superb outings as she was reserve high point rider at both the Randolph and Hollins shows. Competing in the open division, Rose placed first on the flat and fourth over fences at Randolph. At Hollins, she was first on the flat and second over fences.
She placed second over fences at the Bridgewater IHSA show and was third over fences and fourth on the flat at the Sweet Briar show.
Rose’s talents came to the forefront in the Tournament of Champions shows where she helped lead the Eagles to the reserve championship position in the team competition.
The Tournament of Champions featured three shows, showcasing some of the top riders and teams in the country. Rose place first over fences at the first TOC show at Goucher and added a first over fences and a third on the flat at the second show hosted by Otterbein University. Rose saved her best for last as she placed first in both classes – on the flat and over fences - at the third show hosted by Bridgewater at the Bridgewater College Equestrian Center.
“We did really well at the Tournament of Champions shows,” Rose said. “This is the first year we have competed at all three show and we were pretty consistent. We finished fifth at both Goucher and Otterbein and then we won here at Bridgewater.” The Eagles finished just one point behind Virginia Intermont in the Tournament of Champions final standings.
The show at the BCEC was particularly impressive for the Bridgewater riding program. As the host school, Bridgewater was allowed to enter two teams and BC finished first and second against 19 other programs. “That just doesn’t happen,” Jerry Schurink, Bridgewater College Director of Riding, said of the teams’ 1-2 finish.
“That just shows that we not only have good riders, but we have a lot of good riders in our program,” Rose said. “It makes it tough on the coaches when deciding who is going to ride at each show.”
Rose, who has been riding since age four and competing since she was seven, was recruited to ride at Bridgewater by Sarah Irvine, the director of riding for Bridgewater at the time.
In her first season, the Eagles qualified as a team for the IHSA National Show – the first trip to the national show as a team in program history. Rose placed fifth in Intermediate over Fences and seventh in Open on the Flat to help the Eagles secure a fifth-place finish at the national show.
Her freshman year was the only season Rose competed for Irvine as the veteran coach retired, turning the reins of the program over to Schurink.
Rose admits the transition was a bit rocky in the beginning.
“I really loved Sarah. I guess you always have a close bond with the coach who recruited you,” Rose said. “Sarah and Jerry come from different backgrounds and their coaching styles are completely different. At first, it was a little iffy, but it has worked out really great. Jerry has really helped me improve as a rider. I feel fortunate that I had the chance to ride for two outstanding coaches.”
Rose made her second trip to the national show in 2012, this time qualifying as an individual. Rose rode in Intermediate over Fences and placed sixth in the competition.
This spring, there is still plenty of work to do for Rose and her fellow riders. There are five IHSA shows remaining, beginning this weekend with the Randolph/Lynchburg show Friday and the Sweet Briar show on Sunday.
The goals for Rose and the team are lofty.
The Eagles are once again in the hunt for the region team championship – a title the BC riders have won the past two years. Bridgewater enters the final five shows in third place, but the team is just six points behind the leader.
Rose is in contention for the Cacchione Cup, an honor that goes to the top open division rider in each region. Each region winner qualifies for the IHSA National Show where they will vie for the national Cacchione Cup. Rose is tied for second place in the individual Cacchione Cup standings, just two points behind leader Emma Lane Poole from Hollins.
“I’ve been pretty consistent all year long,” Rose said. “I just need to keep riding at a high level. If I can do that, it not only helps me, it helps the team. We want to win the region again.”
Schurink is confident Rose has what it takes to make a strong run at the Cacchione Cup. “Taylor is great in competition. She has a real good handle on her nerves and that allows her to perform at a very high level. Her nerves never get in the way.”