Meet 2: The Year of the Groom

by Stephanie Usevicz
Saturday, September 17th
Meet 2 arrived with another rainy entrance. At first, the morning seemed gloomy but still promising when only light rain trickled from the sky. Soon though, it increased in pace and brought blowing winds that threatened to take the team tent and relocate it in the Land of Oz. The morning Coach Meeting held in the Huron Valley Equestrian Complex Clubhouse discussed the strategies they would employ to respond to the conditions the rain was causing. Not long after the classes began the rain intensified causing a curtain of water to christen horse and rider as they performed for the judges. Hooves rose and fell in puddles of pooling water and thick mud.
As each rider left the outdoor arena waiting in the pouring rain was a dedicated groom who pried loose the soaking wet jacket that had fused itself to the rider. Our grooms, Lilian Lebednick, Ellie Janitz, Sam Schubert, and Rachel Vinarcik have done more than brush a horse or held its lead line; they've performed duties that have allowed 3 riders to compete in 24 slots in 17 classes. Classes can have a very narrow window between when one closes and the next one begins, requiring quick changes from one competition outfit to the next. It would not be uncommon to pass by a rider and see Lilian helping shine boots while the rider sloughed off one jacket and searched for the next, or pass by Ellie spraying the horses with fly spray, and Sam cleaning tack. These senior student-athletes and veteran team members made it look artful and easy. Somewhere, amidst the frenzy of preparation would be Rachel, a freshman student-athlete and newest member of the team, passing like a blur as she ran the result sheets from the judges up to the clubhouse so they could be announced.
Their love of the sport and dedication to their team and Mercy High School has helped to create a greater emphasis on the role the groom plays on the team. It has inspired the team to create a Lead Groom position, held by Lilian Lebednick and a Team Training Coordinator position, held by Ellie Janitz. It has also inspired the equestrian coaching staff to create groom awards for the first time in the history of the Mercy Varsity Equestrian Team; making this year the Year of the Groom.
So, as you read the standings and rider placements for this week, please know that each win was because a rider rode, a horse cooperated, and a groom did more than groom.
Collectively, riders Stephanie Volk, Alicia Vassallo, and Mackenzie Farrow maintained their Division C Team standing of 4th Place for Meet 2 with the following wins:
Hunt Seat Fitting & Showing:
4th Place
5th Place
Saddle Seat Fitting & Showing:
1st Place
4th Place
Western Fitting & Showing:
4th Place
5th Place
Hunt Seat Equitation:
8th Place
Saddle Seat Equitation:
3rd Place
Western Equitation:
5th Place
6th Place
Games & Jumping (Over Fences):
Postponed to Meet 3 due to weather conditions.

Mackenzie, E, & Ellie


Alicia & Corei


Lillian & Sam

Stephanie & Charlie




Mackenzie & E