Auburn Equestrian Adds Three
Nov. 28, 2011
AUBURN - The No. 1 Auburn equestrian team signed two Hunt Seat riders in Elizabeth Benson and Claire Connaghan and a Western rider in Griffin Knight, head coach Greg Williams announced on Monday.
Knight, a native of Madisonville, Texas, has been showing horses at all-around events since she was 8-years-old. She has experience in both AQHA and NRHA Reining events with multiple all-around and reserve all-around championships. She finished in the top 10 in the all-around event at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress and was a finalist at the AQHA Youth World Show in both Horsemanship and Reining. She was also a past and present Texas American Quarter Horse Youth Association State Officer.
"We have been watching Griffin hard for a couple of years now," head coach Greg Williams said. "She has a great presence in the arena and is so talented. Her ability to ride both Horsemanship and Reining will make her an asset."
Other than equestrian, Knight is a varsity softball pitcher and was named the 2009 Newcomer of the Year. She is a 2010 Second-Team All-District Outfield, 2010 All-Brazos Valley Team and 2011 All-District Second-Team pitcher and she also earned 2010-11 All-Tournament awards and was a three-year member of the All-District/All-Academic team from 2009-11.
Benson, a Whitehouse Station, N.J., native, has been riding since she was 3-years-old and has competed all over the U.S. in many national events. She has won many ribbons in the Junior Jumper Division at Devon, Lake Placid and the Hampton Classic. In 2010, she finished 10th at the USET Finals and 11th at the USEF Medal Finals. In 2011, she was the recipient of both the George Morris Excellence in Equitation award and the Christy Conard Leading Equitation Rider award at the Winter Equitation Festival. Also in 2011, she finished third in the Washington International Horse Show and was third in the Maclay Final.
"Elizabeth has had an incredible couple of years competing," Williams said. "She comes from parents who are professionals in the business and has proven that she has what it takes to win on a large variety of horses."
Connaghan, from Apex, N.C., began riding at the age of 6. She has qualified and shown in the USEF Medal Finals and Maclay Finals from 2009-11. She has qualified for the Zone 3 Tad Coffin Equitation Finals for the past three years and earned eighth place in 2010. She qualified and competed at the 2011 Washington International Horse Show Equitation Finals and finished third at the 2011 EJ Haun Medal Finals. She now shows the Young Jumper consistently.
"We have gotten to know Claire well now for some time," Williams said. "We have had the opportunity to watch her school tougher horses in addition to her show horses. She is always calm and quiet and really effective when she rides. I really like the way she rides but it is so obvious that the horses love her as she can get so much out of any of them."
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