By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse JournalApril 15, 2012
Aggies whoop before riding at the National Collegiate Equestrian Association national finals. (Journal photo)
The national championship was settled a day early at the National Collegiate Equestrian Association finals in Waco, Texas.
By the end of the day April 13, when Texas A&M University qualified both its English and western teams for the finals, the Aggies were the national champions mathematically.
But both the western and English teams wanted to win their divisions, and April 14, the teams were set to play Baylor University in English and Oklahoma State University in western.
Those teams wanted their national championships as well.
In NCEA, formerly known as Varsity Equestrian, a rider from each team performs the same pattern on the same horse. The rider with the higher score wins a point for her team. In the English division, teams compete in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences. In western, the teams compete in horsemanship and reining.
In English, Baylor fought back hard and tied the Aggies, 4-4, and the national championship was settled on the raw scores, giving Baylor its first national title, a big thrill for the hometown crowd. In western, Oklahoma State wanted the win but fell one point short.
“They’re such a tough team that they’re going to make you work for it,” said Tana McKay, Texas A&M head coach. “They did the same thing at the Big 12 Championship. It came down to us and Oklahoma State. It was overall (western and English), but it came down to a tie.”
The western title is the fourth in a row for the Aggies, but the overall national championship hasn’t gone to College Station since 2002.
For more on the championships and the American Quarter Horses honored there, see the June issue ofThe American Quarter Horse Journal.
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