Hunt Seat Spotlight: Quincy Hayes
March 7, 2012
By Anthony Alfano, Auburn Media Relations
For Quincy Hayes, riding has been a skill passed down from generation to generation. Hayes was born in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and grew up riding horses.
“My mom’s a professional, and so was my grandmother, and her mother before that,” Hayes said. “It’s been in my genes since the beginning.”
Hayes received her first pony when she was 3 years old, and has been passionate about riding ever since.
“A lot of girls start out doing it at a young age at schooling barns just as something to do,” Hayes said. “Other girls just have a passion for it and it’s something that they just have to do it, and it becomes more than just a hobby for some people. I was lucky enough to have my mother in the business, even though she never pressured me to ride. I grew up loving it from the first day.”
Hayes explored other sports growing up in Canada, but always seemed to come back to equestrian.
“I did, basically, every other sport through my entire life, such as soccer, volleyball and basketball,” Hayes said. “Equestrian was what I was best at, and I invested the most time into it.”
Hayes won numerous awards and accolades growing up. She was the Grand Pony Hunter Champion at the Royal Winter Fair in 2002. In Ontario, she attended Cardinal Carter Catholic High School. It was there she began to excel at equestrian, earning top-25 finishes in USEF Medal Finals, USET Finals and Maclay Finals. She also won the JC and CET Medal finals at the Winter fair and was second in the 2009 Hunterdon Equitation Cup.
After all the awards and accolades Hayes received, colleges started to take notice. During the recruiting process, it was Auburn that won her over.
“The first time they tried to recruit me I was at a horse show in Pennsylvania, and I had never heard of Auburn,” Hayes said. “I started to work for someone in New York on a farm, and two other girls that I was riding with, one was going to Auburn, and the other was getting recruited here, as well. The second time Auburn tried to recruit me, I decided to try it and see what I thought. I’m glad I did.”
As a freshman, it took a while for Hayes to get adjusted to college life and a new country.
“Canada is very different from the South,” Hayes said. “The most south I’ve ever been, before coming to Auburn, was probably Florida when I showed my horse in West Palm. Pretty much everything is different, between food, and the fact that we don’t have high school football at home, so that was definitely a huge change for me.”
Hayes fellow teammates and coaches helped her through her transition.
“There’s so many that have helped me grow and be strong throughout the whole process,” Hayes said. “There are a few seniors, especially like Maggie McAlary and Grace Socha, that have all helped me fit in and make adjustments.”
At Auburn, Hayes focuses on the Hunt Seat aspect of the equestrian team, which includes Equitation over Fences and Equitation on the Flat, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She grew up riding Hunt Seat and has never tried the Western discipline of equestrian, which includes Reining and Horsemanship.
“I like being able to go around a course of jumps and to know that being technical is the main part,” Hayes said. “You have to focus on so many different things such as being smooth and accurate, and I really enjoy it.”
As a freshman, Hayes and her fellow teammates went on to become national champions.
“Before I even signed here, it’s not something you picture yourself doing right away,” Hayes said. “I had never imagined I’d be going on the championship field, or going on the field to get a national championship ring. If you told me that two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Now, as a sophomore, Hayes and her teammates are trying to repeat, and the only way to do that is to improve in every aspect of the sport.
“Coach (Greg) Williams and the rest of the coaching staff give a lot of healthy feedback to help you improve,” Hayes said. “Coach (Jessica) Braswell has been absolutely amazing throughout the entire year, and has helped me so much on focusing on my position along with all the little details that I sometimes forget about. She’s just phenomenal at what she does, and is always helpful and positive, so she’s definitely made a huge impact on me.”
This season, Hayes earned her first MVP honors against Delaware State by defeating Shelby Bonneville, 81-73, in Equitation over Fences.
“I have enjoyed coaching Quincy and watching her turn into a leader in and out of the arena,” Braswell said. “She has maintained a great attitude all season and comes to practice ready to get better every day. I am very excited to see what she does this post season.”
Having lost its last two meets to Georgia at home and South Carolina on the road, Hayes is ready to help the team get back on the winning track as it heads toward the postseason.
“We definitely just hit a little bit of a bumpy patch, but I think that’s going to help us get a little mad and put more drive in us to better ourselves, especially with SECs coming up and then nationals,” Hayes said. “I think we’re going to have a little more grit in our feet, and we’re going to get a little mad which is going to help us.”
No matter how the team is doing, Hayes always has a positive influence on her teammates.
“Quincy is a great team leader, and she always cheers on her teammates at meets,” fellow sophomore teammate Stephanie Rucci said. “She always considers other people’s opinions when making decisions, and she is always optimistic and dependable.”
As Hayes and her teammates get ready for the postseason, she likes the direction the team is going.
“We’re definitely a really strong team, and we all have great relationships with all the girls,” Hayes said. “We always work hard no matter what, and we’re always pushing each other to do better. I think that’s why we’re such a great team, because we’re able to push each other, but still have healthy fun relationships.”
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