The USEF Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Equestrian Team Awards took place Saturday during the President’s Luncheon at the US Equestrian Annual Meeting. The awards recognized the 2017 championship team for each of the USEF-affiliated collegiate and scholastic organizations. Each winning team, its coaches, and its individual team members, showed great commitment and dedication to reach their achievements in 2017.
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Ga., saw great success in 2017. Under the guidance of coach Ashley Henry and assistant coach Abbie Gibson, SCAD was the American National Riding Commission Collegiate National Champion, and the SCAD Hunter Seat Equestrian Team captured the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Collegiate Cup Hunter Seat Team Champion title.
Coach Ginger Henderson and assistant coach Valerie Harr led Averett University Dressage Team from Danville, Va., to the Intercollegiate Dressage Association Team Championship.
The University of Kentucky Saddle Seat Team from Lexington, Ky., was the 2017 Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association Champion Team with the help of coach Stephanie Sedlacko.
Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas, claimed the 2017 National Collegiate Equestrian Association Overall Title under head coach Tana McKay.
Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., took home top honors in the United States Eventing Association Intercollegiate Eventing Championship.
Coaches Jennifer Sullivan and Nicole Melanson led the Grazing Fields Farm IEA Team, from Buzzards Bay, Mass., to the 2017 Interscholastic Equestrian Association Champion Upper School Hunt Seat Team title.
Attendees shared how collegiate programs are an excellent way to ensure youth going from high school to college can stay involved with riding horses.
“These kids are busy with college and classes and trying to make career choices, so we all know that their time maybe in the saddle or at the barn is going to diminish,” said McKay, the Texas A & M University coach. “To have an avenue for these kids to still participate in their crazy horse passion at so many different levels and in so many different disciplines, I think, helps maintain the industry and they can continue to maintain the industry after college.”
Mary Virginia Gibbs, a member of the University of Kentucky Saddle Seat Team, explained that the transition from junior exhibitor to amateur can be a challenge, but collegiate programs help with the change. “I think, for us, once you hit 18, you are not a junior exhibitor anymore and you move into the amateur division. That can be hard for a lot of riders and they can’t always afford a nice horse. And with these collegiate programs they still get to ride, and it is more fun and less stress than the expensive shows.”
Gibbs’ teammate Samantha Robinson noted that collegiate programs are a good way to share equestrian sport with new people. “I also think the collegiate program on campus is really good for people to start riding if they haven’t had previous opportunities to. It’s not very expensive and they can do it when they want to, and it is a good way to expose more people to the sport.”
US Equestrian was pleased to recognize the efforts made by these collegiate and scholastic organizations to expand the opportunities available to our equestrian youth and their commitment to share the joy of equestrian sports with the youth of today.
To find out more about programs for youth equestrians, visit www.usef.org/youth.
-- via US Equestrian