2015 IHSA National Championship Saturday Report

Centenary College’s Matt Drohan gives a behind-the-scenes look of the final day of Hunter Seat Equitation from the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals.

We’re on the road to West Springfield, Massachusetts, for the 2015 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships. IHSA member Matt Drohan, a freshman at Centenary College in Hackettstown, New Jersey, is on the ground to bring you exclusive coverage. For more about the 2015 IHSA Nationals, go to the organization’s website www.ihsainc.com.

Centenary College is the 2015 IHSA Collegiate Cup Hunter Seat Team Reserve Champions (from left): Coach Heather Clark, Caroline Norton, Shelby Keefe, John Buckley, Cody Wooten, Emily Weaver, Skylar Laakso and Coach Michael Dowling | Courtesy, Matt Drohan

May 2, 2015—Description of the day: thrilling. From the start, we knew what we had to do to improve our placing. My Centenary teammates and I had listened to country music throughout the week but changed our routine today to more upbeat music, putting everyone in a great mood and hoping to change the course of the final team standings.

My care horse here at Nationals, Herbie, was all ready for his debut this morning in the Collegiate Cup Open Equitation Over Fences and U.S. Equestrian Federation/Cacchione Cup classes. We walked to the ring—Herbie looking his best—and put in great rounds he did. He could not beat our own Centenary horse James but came in Reserve in the coveted USEF Cacchione Cup class. I was so proud to see Herbie progress throughout this week and finish on an amazing note.

Elizabeth Hay of the College of Charleston captured first and Boston University’s Carly Corbacho, aboard Herbie, placed second. Both of the riders’ coaches were extremely proud of them, as it was “The rider’s class to win or lose.”

Centenary College’s Herbie helped Boston University’s Carly Corbacho capture Reserve in the coveted USEF Cacchione Cup. | Courtesy, Matt Drohan

Putting on the classes wouldn’t be possible without these amazing horses. Cindy Ford of Skidmore College brought 23 horses to Nationals. Passing many coaches during the week, I heard on numerous occasions, “It’s all about the horses.” And it truly is. Chop Chop, loaned by Cazenovia College, won the Triple Crown High Point Hunt Seat Horse Award for the second year in a row. In addition, Daphne, from Skidmore College, won the SmartPak Most Popular Hunt Seat Horse by the Horse Selection Committee here at Nationals. I’d like to thank every single institution that loaned its amazing horses for 2015 IHSA Nationals.

The horses were great, but the pressure was on in the morning as my teammate Cody Wooten had to score high in the Collegiate Cup Open Over Fences class to give Centenary hope of coming in the top two. Cody didn’t disappoint and won the class. We took a breath as we checked the points and noticed the leader, Savannah College of Art and Design, came in sixth, securing only one point for their team. We were now only two points behind.

A few ring drag breaks and Western classes later, the riders in the final Collegiate Cup class were mounting for the flat. It was our last chance to make up for yesterday and come out with a win. Every team’s members had straight faces and the coliseum was silent.

Cody looked impeccable as the judges tested: sitting trot, dropping of stirrups, lengthening of stride at the trot and canter, and collecting of the stride at the trot and canter. In the presentation of awards, by SmartPak, the judges didn’t seem to agree with us as Cody’s number was called for sixth place and SCAD secured their win with first. Skidmore didn’t rally any points in the class, which left us in second place. We’re the 2015 IHSA Collegiate Cup Hunter Seat Team Reserve Champions!

Awards were presented at the conclusion of the final class, and Centenary was represented in almost every award ceremony. Cody Wooten gained an amazing opportunity as he received the Equestriancoach.com Achievement of Excellence Award for Hunt Seat. With such an award, only offered to one hunt-seat rider and chosen by the judges, he will be traveling to California for one week to train and learn from top hunter/equitation coach Karen Healey—all expenses paid. He also received an Equestriancoach.com schoolbag and hat, a lifetime membership to the website and a new Antares helmet.

Centenary’s Cody Wooten with (from left) Bernie Traurig of EquestrianCoach.com and IHSA’s Bob Cacchione and Peter Cashman. | Courtesy, Matt Drohan

Centenary’s Shelby Cashman placed sixth for the Teresa L. McDonald 2015 IHSA Scholarship Challenge, sponsored by EQUUS magazine, winning a $500 scholarship.

Finally, our Cacchione Cup rider Anthony DeSimone won the 2015 IHSA Nationals Rider Sportsmanship Award. Anthony is a senior this year and graduating in only two weeks. Next year will be more difficult without him—riding is not his only asset to the team. C.J. Law, coach of Mount Holyoke College, wanted to close the ballot for this award, but I told her the wait for my paperwork would be worth it, and she agreed to let me have the last nomination. I nominated Anthony for the award because of his attitude, sportsmanship and contribution to the team. He cheers for all of us when we’re in the ring as well as people on other teams. I also caught him cleaning stalls in his show clothes—dedication. He will be receiving a jacket to commemorate his sportsmanship win, and after graduation, plans to be the assistant manager at Missy Clark’s North Run stables.

IHSA Nationals Rider Sportsmanship Award winner Anthony DeSimone cleans the boots of the team’s Walk–Trot Equitation rider Emily Weaver | Courtesy, Matt Drohan

Overall, this successful week flew by, and I am happy I was able to be a part of it as a groom for Centenary, a member of the IHSA Student Leadership Committee, and blogger for Practical Horseman. Show Coordinators Richard Luckhardt, coach of Connecticut College, and Dirk Fogg, coach of Johnson & Wales University, did so well in putting on the 2015 IHSA National Horse Show as well as countless others who were behind-the-scenes. Congratulations to all, and thank you to all of our dedicated and generous sponsors! Until 2016 IHSA Nationals in Kentucky, have a good year!

Cazenovia College’s Chop Chop earned the Triple Crown High Point Hunt Seat Horse Award for the second year in a row. | Courtesy, Cazenovia College Equestrian Team)
Centenary College Equestrian Team selfie | Courtesy, Matt Drohan
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