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Bishop’s athletes aren’t horsing around

School offers equestrian program

Among the many varsity sports offered at The Bishop’s School are the traditional ones such as football, swimming, volleyball and softball. Last fall, though, the Knights added a new program that students won’t find at most other schools in the area.

Bishop’s has added an equestrian team.

Organized by Latin teacher Suzanne Federico with the help of parent Jaleh Watson and history and social studies teacher Katie Crowley, the program offers students an athletic outlet they would be able to experience at only a handful of other San Diego County high schools.

“We enjoy being able to give the kids this opportunity,” Federico said. “They can letter in equestrian. It’s neat that they can compete for the school.”

The team, which is comprised of eight girls and one boy, is in its second season of competition, and competes from October through January. After the first event of the season, Federico said, the Knights were in ninth place out of the 48 teams against which they compete.

Megan Watson has been one of the team’s most successful competitors, having finished first in both the Jumper 1 and Jumper 2c events during the first competition.

Sophie Greenspan also has a first-place finish to her name, in the Hunter Seat Equine Seat Pleasure category.

Stephanie Holmes placed second in the English Pleasure event, and Ryan Wilkinson was third in Working Hunter category.

Bishop’s competes in the Orange County Interscholastic Equestrian League (OCIEL), because there are not yet enough schools competing in San Diego County. As the sport becomes more popular and is adopted by more schools, the Knights hope to join the San Diego Interscholastic Equestrian League, which was formed last year and will be modeled after the OCIEL and a similar league in Los Angeles County.

Bishop’s is scheduled to compete next on Dec. 5 and 6 at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano. The season’s final event will be Jan. 16-17, also in San Juan Capistrano.

Federico, who said she has been riding horses for about 15 years, knows the equestrian program is in its infancy at Bishop’s. She is hoping it continues to grow, however, and hoping it will allow students who have grown up participating in equestrian sports to continue to do so during their high school years.

“We’re hoping to expand the program,” she said. “There are a lot of great riders out there.”