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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City
Journal at the World

November 19, 2013

AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge

Meet the lineup of collegiate riders representing their alma maters at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Parris Rice competes in the 2012 AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge for Baylor University's women's equestrian team

AQHA member Parris Rice competes in the 2012 AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge for Baylor University. Parris will represent Baylor's women's equestrian team again in the 2013 Collegiate Challenge. (Journal photo)

Mounted on unfamiliar American Quarter Horses, 16 collegiate equestrian riders will square off in the AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge during the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. The action kicks off November 20 in the Performance Arena for the event’s prelims, with the final round of competition on the following night, November 21.

Eight student-athletes from the National Collegiate Equestrian Association and eight from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association have been chosen by their respective organizations to showcase their skills in the challenge. Competition will be mixture of NCEA and IHSA formats with the end goal to crown the best collegiate horsemanship rider in the country.

Prelim rounds will be conducted in a head-to-head bracket format utilized by NCEA. Student-athletes will be randomly paired and compete against each other on the same horse. The person with the higher score on that horse advances to the next round.  Once the field is narrowed to the final four, the challenge format will revert to IHSA-style for the final round. The remaining four student-athletes will be randomly assigned to an individual horse. All four will ride the rail, followed by their horsemanship pattern.

AQHA judges will officiate the event and horses are graciously donated by AQHA Professional Horsemen.

The 2012 AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge was won by Texas A&M University's Carey Nowacek.

After her, win Carey told the Journal, “It’s so much fun getting to compete for something bigger than yourself. You’re competing for your school, your team.”

Carey’s teammate Molli Jacobs of Dover, Ohio, will represent Texas A&M in the horsemanship showdown this year. The NCEA riders selected for the competition are:

  • Kelly Boviard, Kansas State University
  • Erin Gillette, Texas Christian University
  • Molli Jacobs, Texas A&M University
  • Katy Krshka, Oklahoma State University
  • Johnna Letchworth, University of South Carolina
  • Parris Rice, Baylor University
  • Stephanie Rucci, Auburn University
  • Paige Stawicki, University of Georgia

The NCEA riders were selected using the 2012-13 individual statistics for horsemanship.

The IHSA riders selected include 2013 IHSA National Championships AQHA high-point rider Austin Griffith of Ohio State University, and reserve AQHA high-point rider Ashley Winters of the University of Findlay.
    
Other riders include a member of the 2013 IHSA National Championships high-point western team, Julia Roberts of West Texas A&M University, who was also selected in 2012 but was unable to ride due to her participation in the West Texas A&M University collegiate horse judging contest, in which she and her team became reserve champions.

The complete list of IHSA riders selected for the AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge is as follows:

  • Julia Roberts, West Texas A&M University
  • Austin Griffith, Ohio State University
  • Douglas Mohr, Ball State University
  • Emily Honey, Oregon State University
  • Alissa Frederick, Black Hawk College
  • Rebekah Strunk, Clemson University
  • Ashley Winters, University of Findlay
  • Kodi Anderson, North Central Texas College

For Douglas Mohr, who will represent Ball State, it's a dream come true.

“Ever since hearing of the AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge, it has been a dream to be selected and represent my university, and now that dream is a reality,” Douglas says. “It's a huge honor to be one of eight IHSA riders picked, and I am very grateful. To be surrounded by the best collegiate riders will be a humbling and rewarding experience.”