IHSA National Championships, May 4

Riders spell out why 'good riding' is a necessity in Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competition.

Sarah Shedd

In IHSA competition riders don’t get any warm-up time before riding their pattern. They randomly draw a horse, mount up and head into the show pen. It takes confidence as much as it requires skill to succeed.

For her debut in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals, Sarah Shedd, a freshman at the University of Findlay in Ohio, was relieved that after watching warm-ups and reviewing the list of horses, there wasn’t a single one she wouldn’t want to ride.

Luckily, she drew Zoe, who is owned by St. Andrews University, and the two proved to be a good pair.

“I couldn’t have had a better draw,” she told The American Quarter Horse Journal at the IHSA National Finals on May 4. “She was smooth and did everything I asked.”

A smooth ride earned Sarah the national championship in the 2014 IHSA-AQHA novice horsemanship division.

“I was totally in shock; I couldn’t believe it,” she said of her win.

As a freshman, Sarah, who is from Northfield, Massachusetts, felt fortunate to be a part of the University of Findlay riding team.

“I grew up showing 4-H and open shows and have never ridden at this level,” she explained.

Throughout the year, she has honed her skills and gained confidence in her ability to layout a horsemanship pattern.

“I keep getting better, keep moving forward and hopefully I’ll do it again,” she said.

Other riders, like Ariel Herrin, are no stranger to highly competitive events. Ariel, a junior at Middle Tennessee State University, has competed in AQHA shows her entire life. Following in the footsteps of her mother, who is a trainer for English events, Ariel has specialized in over fences classes, hunter under saddle, equitation on the flat and showmanship.

At the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show, Ariel earned her highest honor, finishing third in amateur hunt seat equitation. It is no surprise that her experience in the Quarter Horse show pen helped her claim second place in the individual open horsemanship division.

Riding “Trigger,” who is owned by the State University of New York-Oswego, Ariel attributed much of her success to her mount.

“He was awesome and all I could have hoped for. A little lazy, which is what I like,” she said, “I went back to see him, give him some lovin’ and say thank you for the great ride.”

Competing in IHSA events has been a dream come true for Ariel.

“Doing college riding was a dream of mine since second grade,” said Ariel, who transferred to MTSU her sophomore year to join the team.

“I value good riding, which is necessary in IHSA,” she concluded.