Fairfield, CT—November 23, 2013—The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association launched its first season of Western Horsemanship collegiate competition in 1977-78, and presented its first AQHA Team Trophy soon after, at the 1979 IHSA National Championships. The fruits of both have continued to blossom into the 21st century as the 2012 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen title and inaugural AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge class at the AQHA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City saw commanding representation by IHSA college equestrian athletes.
All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen Contestants
Emily Messing, 20, co-captain of the IHSA Western team for the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, and a member of the Massachusetts Quarter Horse Association (MQHA), was crowned 2012 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen on October 23 after a week of competition among 15 contestants representing American Quarter Horse associations from throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The Townsend, Massachusetts native competed in 4-H horse club as a youth with her buckskin mare, Docs Dry Lilly, and in their last year in 4-H, won High Point Quarter Horse at the Massachusetts State Fair: “After winning that award, I thought that Quarter Horse shows might be the next step.”
She attended the All American Quarter Horse Congress in 2010 as a spectator, where it dawned on her that running for Congress Queen might offer the perfect avenue for continuing her involvement with horses. After winning the Massachusetts Quarter Horse Association Queen title, Emily set her sights on the Congress Queen crown.
“I started training with Michele Carver, showing in all-around events on weekends and studying the AQHA Handbook every day,” she said, while juggling full-time courses towards a degree in Operations Management, co-captaining the UMass Western Equestrian Team and competing in IHSA shows, and staying involved in campus life in the Sustainable UMass Action Coalition and Student Business Union.
As All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen, Emily will go to AQHA shows representing the Congress, including the Dixie National Quarter Horse Show, AQHYA Youth World Show, Tom Powers Triple Challenge Futurity, and Reichert Celebration.
IHSA alumni Megan Hephner also made a royal bid for position on the AQHA Congress Court, representing the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association. As a Middle Tennessee State University rider, Hephner earned two titles at the 2010 IHSA National Championships — the Individual National Championship and AQHA Championship in Open Horsemanship – and cemented her position twice in the Top Ten at 2011 IHSA Nationals, earning third in Individual Open Horsemanship and eighth in the AQHA High Point Rider class.
AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge
Also bringing IHSA into the AQHA spotlight were eight IHSA collegiate equestrian athletes, selected by the association based on their IHSA National Championship performances, who were invited to compete in the first AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge at the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City in November. Allotted four minutes for warm-up time, each of the 16 riders – eight from IHSA and eight from NCEA – competed on an unfamiliar American Quarter Horse selected by AQHA World Staff.
Over two days and four rounds of competition, four seeded riders emerged – NCEA riders Carey Nowacek, (Texas A&M), Megan Hawkins (University of Georgia), Lauren Crivelli (Fresno University), and IHSA rider Jarrod Bush (University of Findlay). Rounds 1 and 2 were November 14 in the Performance Arena. Round 3 on November 15 saw Texas A&M University NCEA rider, Carey Nowacek, the No. 1 seed, face off against University of Findlay IHSA rider, Jarrod Bush, the No. 4 seed.
Riding first, Jarrod marked a 137.5 on Invitemeforchocolate, a 6-year-old bay gelding by Invitation Only, owned by Lauren Love of College Station, Texas, and bred by David James of Wayne, Oklahoma. After a four-minute warm-up, it was Carey’s turn at the pattern with Invitemeforchocolate, earning 141.5 points and a trip to Round 4.
“I was honored to be here. It’s a great opportunity for collegiate riding, getting people knowing what we do in IHSA and NCEA,” Jarrod told AQHA Journal afterwards.
The full roster of IHSA riders representing their schools in the Challenge were:
* Andrea Smith, Berry College – IHSA
* Ashley Frappier, University of Findlay – IHSA
* Jarrod Bush, University of Findlay – IHSA
* Catherine Howland, Morrisville State College – IHSA
* Hali Jorgensen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – IHSA
* Shannon Voges, North Dakota State University – IHSA
* Elizabeth Whitman, Oregon State University – IHSA
* Addie Davis, West Texas A&M University – IHSA
* Julia Roberts, West Texas A&M University – IHSA alternate
Round 4 boiled down to Nowacek and Hawkins. Nowacek had a final score of 149.5 points to 137.5 by Hawkins, sending the first-ever AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge championship plaque back to Texas.
IHSA coaches Carla Wennberg and Anne Brzezicki worked with AQHA to create the new college equestrian athlete competition. Berry College IHSA coach, Margaret Knight, whose rider, Andrea Smith, also qualified for the Challenge, said, “It was a great inaugural event. The horses were amazing, the competition fierce, and everyone was helpful. I thought it was great to have the finals in the evening to showcase the event.”
To learn more about IHSA, visit www.ihsainc.com
, or find complete coverage of the AQHA World Show including each Round of the AQHA Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge, atwww.aqha.com/worldshow