Students compete in showjumping, despite pandemic

April 1, 2021 — by Anouk Yeh
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Anjali Mazur-Ganeson and Diva B showing at Woodside. 

 

Junior Anjali Mazur-Ganesan let out a sigh as she led her horse, Diva B, back into her stall. Mazur-Ganesan had just finished handwalking and grazing Diva after a day of competition at the Woodside Horse Park. After slipping off Diva's halter and locking the stall, she checked the time. It was 5 p.m. 

She had been at the horse park for over 10 hours and was finally able to go home. The next day, she would wake up and repeat the same schedule.

Mazur-Ganeson is an equestrian who rides at Aspen Ridge Stables in Woodside under instructor William Saavedra. Her main discipline is the 1-meter jumpers, a class where riders try to get through an 11- to 12-jump course in the fastest time possible without accumulating any faults or knocking down jumps. 

Mazur-Ganeson, who rides six times a week and regularly competes at horse shows in the spring and summer, is no stranger to having a busy schedule. 

Every show weekend, Mazur-Ganeson wakes at 5 to make it to the Woodside Horse Park by 7, when classes begin. Once she’s there, Mazur-Ganeson, along with other riders from her barn, looks over the day’s courses, walks the courses with Saavedra and warms up their horses for their classes. After they finish riding, Mazur-Ganeson spends the rest of the show day maintaining her horse while trying to finish homework.

Mazur-Ganeson has always loved animals and began riding when she was 7; however, it wasn’t until she moved to the United States from Australia three years ago that she began to take riding and showjumping more seriously. 

Junior Miranda Olson is a two-ring rider, competing in both the jumpers and the hunters, an 8- to 10-jump course judged on the rider and horse’s poise over fences. A student under Corrie Busalacchi at Triple Bar Stables in Morgan Hill, Olson has been riding since the fourth grade, starting Garrods Farm. However, when Olson’s trainer at Garrods started her own outside riding program, Olson left Garrods. Three years after the switch to her trainer’s barn, Olson started riding as part of the barn’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association program. 

Olson said that when the pandemic hit in March, Triple Bar Stables immediately shut down, barring riders from taking lessons or shows. Although the barn resumed showing three months later, Olson was initially unable to compete at any of the shows because her sister is at high-risk for COVID-19; beginning in November, however, she finally competed in her first IEA show of the 2020-21 season.

“At the show, there were a decreased number of riders along with a new show scheduled that allowed for people to have shorter show days,” Olson said. “It was a little different than normal shows but nothing too drastic.”

Although the pandemic also abruptly halted Aspen Ridge’s 2020 show season, Mazur-Ganeson said that the 2021 show season is starting to return in full swing, with slight pandemic-friendly modifications, including temperature checks, social distancing and masks. Besides staying safe, Mazur-Ganeson said her goal for the upcoming season is placing consistently in her classes and strengthening her connection with her horse, Diva B, a 16-hand mare that she describes as a “very strong and competitive” ride.

Mazur-Ganeson said that a standout memory she had with her horse happened during the previous show season when the two of them finally “clicked.”

“We were doing a course at a show, and it was the first time we really fit as a duo after I had a confidence knock from riding my previous horse and being thrown into a fence and onto concrete,” Mazur-Ganeson. “My coach was really proud because she’s one of his favourite horses, so he really wanted to see us do well together.”

This season, Mazur-Ganeson’s hopes to continue developing her bond with Diva B, while also creating new competitive partnerships with other horses.

“My goals for this season are to mainly get in a rhythm and get more comfortable showing on different horses.”