IHSA Nationals begin in Lexington, KY

Familiar faces appear in the winners circle during the first day of Western competition at IHSA Nationals.

University of FIndlay's Hanna Heddrick takes the National title in the Individual Open Horsemanshup.

IHSA Nationals kicked off yesterday, May 5, in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park. Out of the 10,000 participating riders only 400 qualified for the National final.

Familiar faces made their way into the winners circle as the western events kicked off this afternoon. Although young, the first National Champion was no stranger to the winners circle. Sophomore rider Selena Finn from the University of Nebraska was last year’s AQHA High Point rider at the event. She was shaking as she realized she had followed up last year’s win with a win in the reining portion of this year’s AQHA cup. “I just tried again and will keep doing my best. I love being here with my coach and team. I wasn’t a part of the team last year, so it is really exciting to be a part of the team” said Finn.

The team Novice Championship went to an ecstatic Emma Willeke. She was followed by another familiar face – Saginaw Valley State University’s Caitlin Arthur claimed her second consecutive title in the Alumni Western Horsemanship. The beaming rider was quoted saying “I love riding alumni. I love riding IHSA – I want to do this forever!”

The final Championship title of the day was awarded to another seasoned sophomore from the University of Findlay. Hanna Heddrick worked hard all season to clinch the win in the Individual Horsemanship.

“I am very proud. She has worked very hard all season and really applied everything we have been working on” said coach Cindy Moorehead.

Hedrick added on “I have the best coaches and teammates. They make me better.”