We're on the road to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for the 2014 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships! IHSA member Taylor Graham is on the ground to bring you lots of behind-the-scenes coverage. For more about the 2014 IHSA Nationals, go to their website here.
May 2, 2014—After six hours of driving from Cleveland, Ohio, I finally arrived in the wonderful city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for the IHSA National Championships. Like every other horse show, each morning starts off bright and early in a hotel lobby trying to grab a muffin and banana before heading to the show grounds.
For this special horse show, I had the pleasure of traveling with my mom. I had gone down to the lobby for breakfast before her, but when she arrived she claimed that she had trouble finding me. “You definitely know who the horse girls are,” she said.”Everyone has on jeans and a baseball hat.”
Yep, you could tell the equestrians were in town, and they were all ready to win.
I had never been to the Farm Show Complex of Pennsylvania and was quite impressed with its size and quality. As I walked along the fence, I could feel the competition in the air from teams from all over the country that filled the stands.
Chelsie Stair of Lake Erie College represented Zone 6 in the USEF/Cacchione Cup Hunter Seat Equitation and Over Fences class. The Cacchione Cup is awarded to the National Individual Hunter Seat High Point Rider. Each of the 38 riders competing today had earned their spot on the rooster by winning High Point Rider of their Zone.
Each rider must draw a horse at random for the first section of the competition along with his or her order of go. Chelsie drew a 17-hand bay gelding named Korino and would be riding 36th in the class.
“This is exactly what I was nervous for,” said Chelsie. “Waiting for 35 riders ahead of me is going to make me anxious.” As apprehensive as she was, Chelsie was she able to hold her nerves and excitement together and have a successful ride on Korino. Chelsie earned a score of 76.25 which put her in 18th place over fences.
However, the competition doesn’t end there for Chelsie. The top 24 riders over fences had to show against each other again on the flat. This time Chelsie drew a gelding named Mickey Mouse. On the rail we were all rooting for Chelsie, along with Centenary College team members. Centenary College does something very special for their horses by award them ribbons for every class they win. I was able to speak with Centenary’s coach, Michael Dowling, who informed me about the students’ proposition to award their horses as well as their riders. While walking through the aisle ways of the barn I noticed many ribbons along the stalls given to the horses. I thought this was a fantastic idea and found myself rooting for Mickey Mouse and Chelsie even more!
Chelsie and Mickey Mouse made a terrific team. However, only the top five of each class move on to show tomorrow in the Cacchione Work- Off class. Although, Chelsie will not be advancing in the competition, I still enjoyed supporting her and cheering her on. “I was extremely pleased with how today went! The Cacchione Cup Competition is this is the first big equitation show that I have competed in,” said Chelsie. “Showing against the best open riders in IHSA and ending up 17th overall is a great feeling.”
I would like to congratulate my teammate, Chelsie for her accomplishment for placing 17th in the Nation along with coach, Mary Pardee, for leading her this far in her showing career!
Today was a very successful day and I’m excited to see what tomorrow will bring. See you in the lobby bright and early!