May 3—Raleigh, N.C.
Kathryn Haley launched Centenary College (N.J.) off with a bang at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association  National Championships when her cool round won the individual open equitation over fences class.
Haley, 19, rode in the second class of the day in Raleigh, N.C., on MyDis, brought to the competition by Hollins University (Va.).
“This is the first year I went individually [to nationals],” she said. “It’s a little nerve wracking. I didn’t get to watch my horse go in the first class. I watched him school, but I didn’t really get to watch him in the spotlight showing.”
As an individual competitor, Haley’s score will not count toward the Collegiate Cup, the team competition portion of nationals, but other Centenary riders started the team competition with a vengeance with a third-placed finish by novice equitation over fences rider Elisabeth Scovotti and a first-placed finish by intermediate equitation on the flat rider Natasha Klingenstein. The team hopes to repeat their Collegiate Cup victory from last year . They also took home the championship title in 2009.
Ending the day with 11 points, Centenary is well within the grasp of current leading school, St. Lawrence University (N.Y.), whose riders earned 15 points so far toward the team total.
A surprise win by University of Colorado-Boulder rider Drew Weber in the novice equitation over fences class of the Collegiate Cup put the team on the map for the first time at nationals.
“This is only the second time we’ve been to nationals,” Weber, 18, explained, unable to hide a wide grin at placing the highest of any UC rider to date. The school qualified last year to send a team to nationals, but the competition ended with meager results.
“I think our coach, Jill Pelzel, is figuring out how to make our team better,” Weber said. CU didn’t earn any additional points so far, but Weber was confident the team learned from their experience last year and are ready to make people take notice of the small team from the West.
- St. Andrews College (N.C.) is the only school to have both a hunt seat and western team competing at nationals this year.
- Riders are not allowed to warm up their horses before entering the ring. Instead, someone else, usually a rider from the school donating the horse, schools the horse. After a competitor mounts, they are not allowed to have full control over the horse until they are walking into the ring.
- Many teams carry around good luck charms. Centenary College passed around Fabio the flamingo. Cazenovia College (N.Y.) carried a plush unicorn, and Savannah College of Art & Design (Ga.) riders held onto Art the bee during the horse draw.
- Natasha Klingenstein, Centenary College, won the team intermediate hunt seat equitation, the only class today in which the judges required the riders to do pattern work. She said she was excited when they announced the extra test because it was a way for her to show off her skills more. The top six riders were required to do a short pattern including a simple lead change, a half turn on the haunches and an extended trot.
- For more Chronicle coverage from the event, visit the 2012 IHSA National Championships page.