The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) are pleased to confirm eight IHSA Western Horsemanship riders will participate in the 2013 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Horsemanship Challenge, Nov. 20-21, during the AQHA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The IHSA riders selected include the 2013 IHSA National Championships' AQHA High Point Rider (Austin Griffith, Ohio State University) and reserve AQHA High Point Rider (Ashley Winters, University of Findlay, who continued her season despite the grief of losing her AQHA show horse to cancer), and a member of the 2013 IHSA National Championships High Point Western Team, Julia Roberts, of West Texas A&M University, who was also selected in 2012, but was competing in collegiate judging (she and her WTAMU team went on to become reserve champions). Emily Honey, of Oregon State University, represents the second (Elizabeth Whitman, 2012) consecutive time OSU riders have earned a slot in the AQHA Horsemanship Challenge.
IHSA riders confirmed to compete in the AQHA Horsemanship Challenge are:
Julia Roberts, West Texas A&M University
Austin Griffith, Ohio State University
Douglas Mohr, Ball State University
Emily Honey, Oregon State University
Alissa Frederick, Black Hawk College
Rebecca Strunk, Clemson University
Ashley Winters, University of Findlay
Kodi Anderson, North Central Texas College
Austin Griffith, a business and marketing major at Ohio State, cited both hard work and the IHSA as integral to the path leading him to OKC. The newly-minted AQHA High Point Rider from the 2013 IHSA National Championships is also a two-time (2008, 2009) winner at AQHA Congress.
“I was so excited when I received the invitation,” says the IHSA National's 2013 reserve AQHA High Point Rider, Ashley Winters, a freshman majoring in Environmental Safety and Occupational Health and Western Equestrian Studies at The University of Findlay. “During the show season I lost my AQHA show horse to cancer. This was an extremely hard time for me and the only way to cope was to keep riding. I knew the open level was going to be really tough and worked really hard, practicing five times a week for reining and horsemanship. The Findlay IHSA Team has wonderful coaches. At Nationals, their advice was to go out there and show them what a freshman can do.” Now she gets her chance to show them at AQHA Worlds.
“This year has just been full of blessings for me, especially going to IHSA Nationals a second time,” says Julia Roberts, who rides on WTAMU's IHSA National Champion team. “There is a saying that I live by, 'Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard,' by Tim Notke. This year’s hard work definitely paid off as I was named National Champion in Individual Open Horsemanship and Reserve National Champion in Team Open Horsemanship. Our Western team was also named National Champions--a first for WT! The blessings haven't stopped now that I have been invited to ride in the Challenge. I am so proud to represent my coach, Amanda Love, and West Texas A&M. Without the support from my family at WT, I wouldn’t be where I am today. To ride the quality of horses we will ride at this challenge will be amazing. I can’t wait for November!”
For Douglas Mohr, who will represent Ball State, it's a dream come true. “Ever since hearing of the AQHA Collegiate Challenge, it's been a dream to be selected and represent my university, and now that dream is a reality. It's a huge honor to be one of eight IHSA riders picked, and I am very grateful. To be surrounded by the best collegiate riders will be a humbling and rewarding experience.” Mohr will pursue a masters in Occupational Therapy, having just earned his bachelor's in Exercise Science.
Animal and Veterinary Science major, Rebecca Strunk (2015) added, “I was honestly shocked to be invited to this prestigious event. It makes all the long hours of practice worth it. It's an honor to represent Clemson University and hope to do so to the best of my abilities.”
The eight equestrian athletes representing their educational institutions in the Challenge were selected based on 2012-13 individual statistics for horsemanship. Preliminary AQHA Horsemanship Challenge competition will be Wednesday, Nov. 20, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the AQHA Horsemanship Challenge finals will be held the following evening. Learn more about IHSA riders and teams at www.IHSAinc.com.