Equestrian team rides into regionals

The Sonoma State equestrian club continues to hold steady in the saddle, placing four riders at Regionals earlier this year.  

Founded in 2008, the team has continued to progress, putting in hours of hard work and dedication each week. Focusing on either Hunt Seat or Western-style riding, every member must take at least one lesson a week, two if they’re jumping at events.  

Four girls brought home ribbons for Sonoma State at regionals in February. Julia Caruana, and Nicole Elsineitti placed third in their respective classes, Caitlin Filby placed second in the advanced walk trot lope division, and Sarah Villaseñor brought home second place at Hunt Seat Zones.

Caitlin Filby placed second at regionals in the advanced walk trot lope division. She attributes her success in the competition to her those around her who have helped to train and encourage her to achieve more. 

“Having such wonderful trainers inspires me to ride better,” said Filby, “I decided at the beginning of fall semester to start taking English riding lessons in hope to show both English and western next year.”

 However, out of all of the riders on the team, only one is still participating in post-season events. Sarah Villaseñor placed second in the Walk Trot Canter division at Hunt Seat Zones in Stanford, qualifying her to compete at Nationals in Kentucky. Villaseñor will be competing against other riders in the same class from around the country and British Columbia. 

“I feel so excited to compete in nationals, and I’m proud to represent Sonoma State,” she said, “our team has been around for less than 10 years, so representation on a national level is really great. I’m nervous, but looking forward to it.”

Her impressive accomplishments date back to a history of preparation and training. 

“I started riding when I was 10. I rode western first, which is a different discipline that what I’m competing in now.”  

This isn’t Sarah’s first time competing at a national level. Villaseñor went to the Pennsylvania nationals her Sophomore year for walk trot, another success of the equestrian program. She hopes to place in nationals this year. 

“Going into competition, I’m going to focus on strengthening my position and my lower leg when riding, and continue to work out and eat healthy in general,” Villaseñor said. “Thinking positively and imagining what I want to happen in competition really helps me translate that into the arena.” 

Sonoma State University’s equestrian team is open to any and all current Sonoma State students who are committed to horseback riding, and want to further develop knowledge of horsemanship and competition.  

“Before joining the team, riding was a very individual thing that I did, and I never had friends my own age to ride with,” said Filby. “Like many other sports, we spend almost every weekend together during show season, which creates a comradery that I’ve never experienced involving horses before.” 

Villaseñor, the only rider on the Sonoma State Equestrian Team still competing this post-season, will participate in the ISHA Nationals in May at Kentucky Horse Park.