COURTESY OF BROWN UNIVERSITY
Jade Palomino competes in intermediate flat riding and jumping for the Bears.
Ride continues for Palomino
The Seabury Hall alum is competing in equestrian at Brown University
JADE PALOMINO rode a horse for the first time when she was 8 years old. She had tried several sports, such as swimming, gymnastics and ballet, but none of them really caught her attention.
"The minute I got on a horse, I really enjoyed it and I kept going back," said Palomino. "It is kind of an individual sport and I like that. You also meet some really awesome people in equestrian."
She competed on a regular basis on Maui in the intermediate level, a level determined by age and experience and below open competition.
At Seabury Hall, where students are required to participate in sports, there was an independent physical education program that suited Palomino. She fulfilled that requirement by participating in equestrian events.
"You had to compete regularly and turn in weekly progress reports," she said.
Palomino competed in dressage for several years in shows conducted by the Maui Horse Show Association.
"I did well my last two years of high school in the first level of dressage," she said.
Between her junior and senior years, she attended a summer engineering camp at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and liked New England.
"It gave me a feel for the area, the culture and what the people were like," said Palomino, who is from Pukalani, Maui.
Before selecting Brown University, Palomino considered Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Wellesley, Stanford, Southern California and Rice.
"I just wanted something different. This was as different as I could get. Providence is a city that has everything. Brown has an open curriculum. They encourage students to design their own education. Their philosophy is you are an adult and we will treat you as an adult," said Palomino, a junior majoring in English.
It helped that Brown is the only Ivy League school with equestrian as a varsity sport. It also is an NCAA sport.
PALOMINO IS IN HER third season riding for the Bears. She participates in intermediate flat riding and jumping.
"Flat riding involves walking, trotting and cantering around the ring with several other participants. You are judged on your form and how skillfully you make the transitions. It is really subjective. You can have problems, just like with the judges in figure skating."
A rider is judged on her equitation (horsemanship). This refers to a rider's form and position on the horse while executing movements throughout the course.
"It is very much like figure skating. You want to get around the course without any falls or have your horse stop (called a refusal). You have to keep a steady pace and you have to look good. That is definitely my strong point," Palomino said.
She gets to practice on horses she is familiar with at Brown, but it is a different story when the shows are away.
"Every college has it own set of horses. You pull horses' names out of a hat about an hour before competition. Then it is a test of your abilities. If you are really good, you should be able to deal with any kind of horse," Palomino said. "It can be nerve-wracking. You can get a horse that bucks all the way around the area."
During the year, riders accumulate points that determine if they move up a level and/or qualify for the regionals.
"Jade is very close to the open level. It will depend on team strategy if she moves up. I have to have a rider in every category or we forfeit that category," said Brown coach Michaela Scanlon. "She improved her basic position just from riding different courses. What has really improved is her ability to figure out different horse styles and adapt her riding so it will complement the style of her horse. Her education has been to adapt her knowledge to bring out the best in the horse she has drawn. Jade is a very steady rider."
SCANLON HAS TO DECIDE, based on team strategy and what year a rider is in school, whether or not a rider points up to get to the next (open) level.
Scanlon, who says intermediate riders are hard to find, has three and she is rotating them in shows.
"If Jade doesn't point up this year, she would automatically do it next year as a senior," Scanlon said. "As a safeguard, I would like to have her go to the regionals as a senior, where she will be more competitive.
"We respect each others goals and the thing about this team is they are willing to set individual goals aside for the team."
Palomino is not sure what Scanlon's plans are for her before the regionals.
"I'm only two points shy of qualifying and probably would only have to get seventh place to move up. Even if I did, I would go to the regionals as an intermediate, but start next year in the open level," Palomino said.
She has had falls in her career, but has never broken any bones, although she did suffer a concussion.
Palomino also is in charge of coordinating team activities designed to help the 34 members bond.
"Jade arranges dinners, movie nights and other activities. She puts a lot of effort into that and has done it for two years," Scanlon said.
Palomino, who maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, plans to go to film school or law school after graduating from Brown next spring.