Anna Seto ’18 delivered a strong performance for the equestrian team Saturday, collecting a pair of top two finishes in the Zone 1 Finals at Mount Holyoke College and qualifying for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships. The qualification marks Seto’s second consecutive year riding at the highest level of collegiate competition. She finished first in the Intermediate Flat division and second in the Intermediate Fences division, both of which earned her a bid to nationals alongside teammate Dominique Carlo ’20, who qualified with a second-place finish in Walk-Trot.
For her performance, Seto has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Congratulations on qualifying for nationals! How does that feel?
It feels really great! It’s awesome.
What divisions are offered for the team to compete in? What is your strongest?
The team is comprised of people from all different experience levels. There’s anything from Walk-Trot, which means you’ve pretty much never ridden before, to competing pretty extensively. I actually started in one of the lowest divisions, and I moved up by doing a lot of horse shows and placing out of divisions.
How did you first get into equestrianism?
I read “The Black Stallion” in fourth grade, and I wouldn’t drop it. I love horses — I think they’re amazing. I started doing summer camp one summer, and then my parents agreed to do lessons every other week, and it progressed. I worked off a lot of riding, doing chores at the barn and things like that for riding time and lessons. I didn’t compete much in middle school and high school. It’s a really expensive sport, so that’s one thing that’s awesome about Brown. We’re varsity, so we’re funded. I didn’t think I would be able to ride in college at all, so that’s great.
Is it difficult to balance your academic and equestrian careers?
Our team commitments are weightlifting two or three times a week (and) our general team meetings. Then for our riding time, we do two lessons a week, which are three-hour time blocks. It’s different from a lot of sports, because it’s not like we show up to the barn and the whole three hours are riding — it’s a lot more of taking care of the horse, you have to brush the horse and get them ready. Our lessons are usually about an hour of riding, but in a three-hour time block to fit everything in.
What are your interests outside of riding and school?
I like reading, cooking and being outdoors in other ways. I really like hiking. I am a mechanical engineer, so the vast majority of my time is taken up with different classes and doing stuff with the team. On top of that, it’s just wherever I can find time to do something fun.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am going to be interning over the summer at Planet Labs, which is a start-up satellite company in San Francisco. Then I’ll be coming back to Rhode Island and be working with Raytheon in the underwater and mine division in Portsmouth.
In your opinion, what makes a good rider? What are your personal strengths?
Definitely mental control and confidence. A lot of times, people say that you win with your attitude going into the ring. I think that is something that a lot of people struggle with that I have gotten better at. Not to say that I’m perfect or anything, but improving that has been a big part of it. Also, the way we compete, we don’t know too much about the horses we are riding. It is a bit of an adaptability challenge, to be able to communicate with them and get them to do the things that you want them to do without having ridden them before. I rode a lot of lesson horses growing up. I didn’t have my own horse. Having a wide range of experience and being adaptable is super huge.
What have you enjoyed the most about being part of the equestrian team?
I think that something it has really made me appreciate is actually the team concept of it. Riding is an individual sport everywhere else, other than collegiate. So having other people to support you and supporting other people is great. Having all the different levels of riders in one place is really rewarding — getting to see everyone progress, do better and learn.
Seto will compete at the IHSA National Championships beginning May 3 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.