Inside the rides: from a huntseater to an aspiring lawyer, Berry’s IHSA nationals team was well represented

Elizabeth Poczobut
Elizabeth Poczobut

Standout rider: Elizabeth Poczobut: Elizabeth Poczobut, Berry’s Western team captain, credits good draws as a significant part of her success during her two rides for the team at IHSA Nationals, both of which put her in the top 10 riders.

GREAT DRAWS: “All my horses were great and easy to get along with,” she explained. “They were straightforward; I had great draws.”

Each horse was unique, however, she said. For instance, one of her reining draws was a great stopper but needed more encouragement in its spins; another was a good spinner but not so strong on its stops. Poczobut had plenty of opportunity to assess the Nationals horses; she actually rode six times for Berry this trip: twice as an individual, twice for the team and twice in the AQHA High Point Western competition.

A SENSE OF TEAMWORK: She concurs with Berry Western Coach Debra Wright that there was a special feel to this year’s team.

“We all got along really well,” she said, adding that the women were all invested in each others’ performances. Help for each team member with hair, makeup and clothes before each class was just part of the team experience.

“There’s a huge group of support for each ride,” Poczobut explained.

The rising junior said she looks forward to the coming season.

“We had a great season, great coaches,” she said. “We’re going to hit the ground running for next year.”

Poczobut has plenty of time left to compete, but she’s already looking ahead to post-graduate education options. She’s a political science major, and she plans to go to law school. Horses will remain a part of her life one way or another, though, it seems: she’s already looking at the possibility of practicing equine law.

Amanda Petersen
Amanda Petersen

Standout rider: Amanda Petersen: This year was somewhat of a whirlwind journey for Senior Amanda Peterson, whom Head Coach Margaret Knight handpicked from among the English riders to represent the team in the Western Intermediate division.  Petersen said she  enjoyed the equine partners she found in her new discipline, and she expressed appreciation for Knight’s intuition.

“It was a good call on her part,” Petersen said. “It was just really fun riding Western. I really enjoyed some of the horses that I rode at school and with our assistant coach, Debra Wright.”

ADAPTING: Despite a lack of experience at the beginning of the season, Petersen seemed to come into her own in a Western saddle.

“Some of the things I was fighting in the English just helped me to be better Western,” she explained.

Petersen’s Nationals draw, “Red,” owned by Cazenovia College, was a big part of her first-place ride, and the two had something in common: they both came from the English world. “Red,” Petersen explained, had been a dressage horse before he began his Western training.

“We had both done something else before Western,” she said. “He was a superstar. I felt like I had ridden him a lot.”

Petersen, who returned home to Arizona after graduating from Berry in May, said she plans to continue with the discipline when she can fit in rides between law classes at Arizona State. In fact, she’s already put in some calls to a couple of people she knows own Western horses.



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