Two UW Riders Place at Equestrian National Championship Show
The University of Wyoming equestrian club accomplished a piece of history last weekend at the 2009 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships.
For the first time in the program's existence, UW placed two riders among the top 10 finishers in their respective divisions at the IHSA's season-ending show, an event that brings together the top performers from among 300 member institutions and 6,500 riders in the United States and Canada.
Freshmen McCabe Jones (Dillon, Colo.) and Katie French (Plymouth, Minn.) starred for UW, with Jones finishing fourth in intermediate western horsemanship and French placing seventh in beginner western horsemanship.
"They were excited just to make it to nationals and, in a way, I think that helped them because they didn't put any extra pressure on themselves to finish first or second. They just wanted to ride the best they could," says UW Coach Kari Bright. "They practiced so hard for this and I'm just so proud of them!"
UW's third representative, sophomore Elizabeth Kinnally (Westwood, N.J.), did not place in intermediate equitation over fences, a hunter seat riding event in which the rider must show over eight to 10 fences while maintaining proper body positioning atop the horse.
But, Bright says, Kinnally performed "extraordinarily well" at the championship show at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
"Her class was, hands down, the hardest class at nationals. I wasn't the only coach saying that, either," Bright says.
In their first showings on the national stage, Jones and French performed more like seasoned veterans, leaving judges with little choice but to award high scores.
"I went into the ring and had one of my best rides of the season. I don't think I could have rode any better," Jones says. "The experience was amazing. I have never showed in such a nice facility with such nice horses. This, by far, was my best experience in the IHSA and my entire horse career up to this point."
French was equally awed by the atmosphere at the national show.
"It feels great to have placed at nationals, because I wasn't expecting it," says French, a barrel racer by trade who was talked into joining the club by Jones early in the season. "The experience was really fun and one that I will remember for a long time. I was a little disappointed in my ride, because I've had a lot better ones throughout the season, but it was still a great experience that made me want to qualify for nationals again next year."
Bright is already looking forward to the 2009-10 season, too.
"This year was such a huge and exciting step for our club, the coach says. "I can't wait to see what happens next year."
Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009