IHSA National Finals: May 2

Savannah College of Art and Design are the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association English Team Collegiate Cup Champions.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

To “draw” the horse for their class, riders had to pick a lobster out of the lobster trap. (Credit: Journal)

Freshman riders and a horse named Peppy finished on top in the second day of competition at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals at the Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Freshman, Danielle Grasmeder representing the State University of New York at Oswego slid her way to the National Reining Horse Association individual open reining championship title aboard Peppy. Originally a rodeo competitor, Danielle made the switch to reining three years ago after seeing the event at the New York State Fair.

“I love everything about it (reining), the stops, the spins and that everything is fast, yet controlled,” she said.

The top four finishers in the NRHA individual open reining event earned the opportunity to participate in the ultimate catch-ride held during the annual NRHA Derby. Grasmeder, along with, Makayla Maciejewski of Black Hawk College in Illinois, Morgan Sykes from University of Central Florida and Alexa Buckheit of Alfred University in New York will travel to Oklahoma City to ride in the Derby at the end of June.

“It will be great to ride horses of that level and will give me great exposure as a showman,” Grasmeder added.

Freshman riders and Peppy continued the winning streak in the AQHA beginner horsemanship team event. Kendall Dudenhoeffer, a first-year student at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana, earned the national championship title in the AQHA beginner horsemanship team event.

“Peppy was an awesome horse and we had a real good ride the whole time,” she said.

Though she has owned horses most of her life and chose SMWC for the equine business management program, she never competed in horse shows before going to college.

“When I got to school, I thought, 'Why not try it?' ” she said.

Trying something new has certainly been worth the effort.

Twenty-five riders, including Nicole Anderson, a freshman from North Dakota State University, completed Phase I of the AQHA high-point rider competition, which started May 2.

“I think horsemanship is my stronger class, so I’ll really have to ride my hardest tomorrow during the reining phase,” she said.

Exhibitors in the high-point rider class compete in a rail class, which includes a horsemanship pattern and a reining phase. Scores from both phases are added together to determine the winning high-point rider of the year.

"The high-point rider class and IHSA competition in general are a great opportunity for the students to showcase their skills,” said Tara Swanson, coach of the North Dakota State University team. “It’s also great because they get to ride diverse groups of horses and compete against riders they don’t usually ride against.”

At the end of Day 2, the University Nebraska-Lincoln and SMWC shared the lead, with 12 points each.West Texas A&M finished the day a close third with 11 points. Sunday, May 3, the final day of competition, included several team classes, which determined the overall western team winner.

English events wrapped up on May 2, with Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia named the 2015 English Team Collegiate Cup Champions. Elizabeth Hay from the College of Charleston in South Carolina won the prized Cacchione Cup for English riders.

Journal Coverage of the 2015 IHSA National Finals

  • May 3 – Berry College of Georgia is the western national champion team at the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals.
  • May 2 – Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia named the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association English Team Collegiate Cup Champions.
  • May 1 – Western events kick of Day 2 of the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals in Massachusetts.