Last year’s national champions, Centenary College (N.J.) won their share of championship ribbons today, Thursday, May 6, at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships in Lexington, Ky., but Skidmore College (N.Y.) leads the field after Day 1.
Consistency was the key to their plan, and Skidmore’s riders, Laura Roberts in novice equitation over fences, Isabella McKeon in walk-trot-canter equitation on the flat, Chelsea Jones in intermediate equitation on the flat, and Kelly Campbell in open equitation on the flat, took home reserve championships in four of the five team classes to earn 20 points.
Sitting close behind in second with 14 points is Centenary, who scored two wins with Ali Krecker in intermediate equitation on the flat and Julie Connors in novice equitation over fences. The University of Findlay (Ohio) also grabbed a championship when Mary Margaret Fly won the open equitation on the flat class. Phillip Flynn and Christie Barnett’s pair of fourth-placed ribbons, in intermediate equitation on the flat and walk-trot-canter equitation on the flat pushed them into third with 13 points. University of Kentucky, national champions in 2008, are in fourth with 11 points, and Cazenovia College (N.Y.) is in fifth with nine points.
The Collegiate Cup Competition resumes tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.
Cohen Starts Day With Blue
Centenary College’s Marissa Cohen, Westchester, Penn., had luck on her side when she drew one of her school’s horses, but it didn’t take off any pressure.
“It made me nervous because I haven’t ridden him as much as the other horses, and you should know this horse by now,” Cohen, 21, said with a laugh. “It was a little bit nerve wracking.”
However, Cohen started Centenary’s streak of wins today by taking home the individual intermediate equitation over fences championship. Cohen is finishing up her junior year at Centenary College, where she is studying equine business management and teaching and training. She received the highest score for her course and remained on top after the judges, Don Stewart and Susie Schoellkopf, called the top four riders for additional testing.
“The test wasn’t as good,” Cohen admitted. “I like to test. I like to show off a little bit. It was just OK, but I thought that my ride before should have counted ahead since it was a really good ride.”
This is not Cohen’s first national title. In 2009 she won the team intermediate equitation over fences, as well as the team national championship. While she is not riding on the team this year, she is looking forward to qualifying in the open classes in 2011. Eventually, she hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a professional in the industry.
“Once you’re a horse person you’re always a horse person, so I want to find my niche in the industry. I just haven’t figured out what it is,” she laughed. “In IHSA you just want to better yourself at every single horse show, and that’s what I think really does make you a better horseman.”
Mohr Brings More Titles To Centenary
Lindsey Mohr’s riding resume has a long list of championships and blue ribbons, and in her first appearance at IHSA Nationals, she added intercollegiate title, as well. The individual open equitation over fences win came as a surprise to Mohr, who will also be contesting the Cacchione Cup later this weekend.
“I just wanted to go and have a solid round that I would be happy with. I didn’t expect to win at all,” said Mohr, Long Valley, N.J. “I was a little nervous because I tend to like to lean forward and hunt to the jumps a little bit, and [Whiz Kid] was a little more upright but he actually helped me in the long run, and it was so much fun. I just galloped around the course and I loved it.”
Mohr was determined to qualify for her first nationals and spent a hectic winter flying back and forth between New Jersey and Florida, where she rode professionally for Emil Spadone.
“[Showing in IHSA] is completely different, because when I tell people from Florida about it they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you don’t get a warm-up jump? You just have to go in the ring and show? That’s so much harder.’ But it’s not that difficult once you get used it; it actually improves your riding abilities,” said Mohr.
Mohr, 21, also believes that riding in IHSA has helped prepare her for a professional career.
“IHSA has helped me develop more as a horse person, learning the all around aspects of horsemanship, and I’ve also learned different riding techniques working with so many different riding instructors and riding so many different horses,” she said.
McGuire Nabs Her First National Title
Alexandra McGuire occasionally gets an odd look when she explains her ambition to work in the computational neuroscience field, but the judges gave her a serious look today, and pinned her first in the individual walk-trot-canter equitation national championship.
“My first direction wasn’t as great as the second direction, and I knew it,” said McGuire, Amherst, N.H. “When we got called back in I just kind of pulled out that extra 110 percent.”
This is McGuire’s second trip to IHSA Nationals. Last year she rode in the same class for the Skidmore team.
“I feel more relaxed, but I think it’s more because I have been here before and have the experience,” McGuire, 20, said.
McGuire believes IHSA has given her opportunities she won’t find elsewhere.
“I will never get to ride horses this nice; I will never get to ride this much; I will never get to ride under instructors of this level, and I’ll never make the friends that I made,” McGuire said with a smile. “The team dynamic really changes riding.”
Along with the Skidmore team, McGuire had family cheering her on. Her father made the 15-hour drive from New Hampshire to watch her compete.
Armour Rebounds To Win Title
McKenzie Armour, Murrells Inlet, S.C., made up for a disappointing trip to nationals last year by winning the individual novice equitation on the flat national championship today.
“I came last year, and I didn’t have my confidence, so this is a huge turnaround, and all my work definitely paid off,” said Armour, 20. “It’s just all about getting your head in the game and being confident, and going out there with the mentality of ‘I’m the best; I’m the one to beat.’ Being here is a huge honor, but to win it is a dream come true. I can’t even describe the feeling.”
Armour took home sixth place in team intermediate hunter seat equitation for Charleston later in the day.
“They’re my family,” Armour said of her IHSA experience. “We all don’t know each other but I think we’re just one big family because we all share the same thing. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone. It’s been just an honor to be here, and it will always be close to me.”
Fernhoff Finishes First
After two previous trips to nationals, Katherine Fernhoff, Los Angeles, Calif., finally took home a ribbon when she won the individual intermediate equitation on the flat national championship.
“I did not expect to do that well. I was really hoping. I saw that they were giving ribbons to all the competitors, and I was like great I got a ribbon! That was really the goal for today,” Fernhoff said with a laugh. “It was definitely a little more stressful because if you don’t make it through one round you don’t make it. If you have your team backing you up sometimes you can make it through with a not-so-good ride. [Not being on the team this year] allowed one more student to come to nationals, so that was good.”
Along with her studies as a biology major, Fernhoff served as horse manager for the Stanford (Calif.) team this year.
“It’s been really nice because it gives me something to do outside of school. I’d be really stressed out if all I had to focus on were Stanford academics,” she laughed.
Richardson Upholds Family Tradition
Mary Richardson, Powhatan, Va., took home her first intercollegiate national championship in the individual novice equitation over fences class, upholding her family’s IHSA traditions. Mary’s sister, Lauren, won the intermediate equitation on the flat championship in 2004 and her other sister, Erin, competed at the championships as well.
“There’s definitely always been an added pressure,” Richardson, 21, said with a laugh. “My oldest sister has always been serious and pushed me, and Erin’s kind of always balanced it out by making it OK to mess up. We’ve never really competed against each other, which is good, and they’ve always been helpful. They used to do my hair in braids and bows, so that was always fun.”
While Richardson was thrilled with her title, she was disappointed that her team didn’t qualify this year. Like many regions on the East Coast, Richardson’s school suffered from show cancellations from excessive snow, which made it difficult for riders to qualify, or "point out."
“I love riding individually, but it’s just better to be here as a team because you have your whole team to support you,” she said. “You’ve just got one shot as an individual, and that’s your only shot to just go in there and lay it down.”