Over 100 individuals from all over the country competed in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Western Semi Finals. Representatives from 28 schools, from as far away as California, were at the event held at the J.W. Ruby Research Farm in Reedsville over the weekend.
“So at this show, they had to qualify to come here. And then the top four individuals that place in their classes at this show will be ellegible to go on to their national competition,” said Crystal Smith, equine studies program director and WVU teaching associate professor.
All skill levels competed at the event.
“So it’s a very mixed bag. So there’s individuals here that would be open riders, that have been riding and competing for a long time. Maybe they grew up showing as youth, and then they went on to compete as college equestrians. But there are also beginner riders here, who this year might be their first year riding a horse. There’s competition at all levels, form basic beginner, all the way up to pretty advanced riders,” said Smith.
Riders do not compete with horses that they are accustomed to.
“The interesting thing about equestrian team competitions is that they don’t bring their own horses to compete on. There’s horse providers in the area that generously donate the use of their horses for the day, and then when the competitors get here, they randomly draw a horse that they’ll have to quickly get on, get a sense of what that horse is about, and how it needs to be ridden, and then go in the ring and compete,” said Smith.
Paige Everly said adapting to the new horse can be tough.
“It can be a little nerve racking. But most of us get through it pretty well. It takes a little while. It takes a good couple of laps around the ring to figure it out finally, but after that it usually goes pretty well,” said Everly.
“So they’re really trying to find the best riders, and ensure that the best rider moves on to the next level,” said Smith.