IHSA National Championships, May 3

College student goes from lacrosse player to to horsemanship national champ in a year.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Teammates pass the time in between classes chatting and offering one another tips for their upcoming rides.

Prior to the fall of 2013, Austin Trochenbrot, a student at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina, had never been on a horse.

“I played lacrosse my first three years of college and switched to riding my senior year,” he told The American Quarter Horse Journal at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national finals on May 3.

In less than a year, Austin went from never having ridden a horse to claiming the 2014 IHSA-AQHA beginner horsemanship national championship.

“It’s fantastic,” he said, “I had a big start, winning the first show of the year, and kept building off that.”

Austin attributes his win to having drawn a good horse.

“ ‘Stingray,’ a horse from Ohio State University, helped tremendously,” he explained. “The horse was phenomenal, he listened and it worked.”

Austin attributed some of his success to having strong legs, thanks to years of playing lacrosse.

“It’s also not just about the ride for Austin,” said St. Andrews University Coach Carla Wennberg. “He enjoys the whole package, cleaning stalls, grooming, etc.”

Carla, who is also an AQHA Professional Horsewoman and an AQHA judge, has a habit of recruiting lacrosse players to join the college’s riding team.

“I convinced Austin’s good friend, who also plays lacrosse and had never ridden, to join the team,” she explained. “In 2012, he won the IHSA national championship in his division.”

Carla knew that if Austin worked hard, he too could have the same success.

“You can teach feel, but the individual has to have an interest and be willing to work hard,” she said.

Luckily for Austin, he learned on top-notch school horses.

“He gets to ride a Quarter Horse who’s a little hotter than others and it’s gotten him prepared,” she added.

Winning top honors has made it easy to get hooked on horses and showing. Following graduation in December, he plans to get a horse and continue competing.

“I’ve got a halter I won at semis and now I need a horse to go with it,” he concluded.