By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse JournalMay 4, 2013
Rachel Foster wins beginner western horsemanship May 4 for West Texas A&M University at the IHSA National Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Larri Jo Starkey photo) For more photos, scroll to the slide show below.
After two days of competition, two western teams were tied for the lead May 4 at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
St. Andrew’s University and West Texas A&M University both had 12 points by the end of the day.
While both teams had riders who placed in individual events, those don’t count toward the team totals. The only western event May 4 that counted toward points relied on the teams’ least experienced members – the contestants in beginning western horsemanship, a walk-trot class.
“It was amazing,” said Rachel Foster of West Texas A&M, who won the class. “I had an awesome horse. She was super responsive. Whenever I asked for anything, she was like, ‘That’s fine, I can give you whatever you want.’ It was a really fun ride, and I appreciated how honest she was.”
Rachel was riding “Lucky,” a horse provided by the State University of New York at Oswego.
In IHSA, riders compete on horses they do not own. For the national finals, most of the horses were provided by colleges on the east coast.
IHSA has six levels of western riding, based on experience, and six levels of English riding. Rachel was one of those who had not ridden much before arriving at college.
“I thought about not even trying out for the team,” she said. “The day before tryouts, I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’ I’ve been riding the past seven months or so for WT, and I’ve come such a long way, and I’ve had awesome coaches to help me along.”
The physical act of riding isn’t the most important thing Rachel has learned, she said.
“Really, it’s just learning to understand the horse and what they’re telling me,” she said. “There are so many different horses with so many different personalities, and you just have to figure out how they want to be ridden, because you can’t ride a horse the way you want to be. You have to understand what they need you to do.”
In IHSA competition, riders get no warm-up time before their pattern. The challenge is enticing, Rachel said.
“I’m going to keep riding horses,” she said.
English competition wrapped up earlier May 4, with Skidmore College and St. Lawrence University tying for first place among the teams.
Cori Reich of Centenary College in New Jersey won the prized Cacchione Cup for English riders.
Competition concludes May 5. Check back with aqha.com/showing for the results and more photos.
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