Syracuse, N.Y.—May 5, 2018—The final day of the 2019 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championships featured the conclusion of the Western divisions. This year, the IHSA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Western Divisions. Young men and women from across North America qualified to compete at the Expo Center at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The University of Findlay successfully defended their 2018 title and took home the trophy for the second consecutive year with 49 points. University of Wisconsin-River Falls was named reserve champion with 41 points and Ohio State University was a close third with 39 points.
Spencer Zimmerman, who became the Findlay Oilers’ head coach for the 2017-2018 season a is now two-for-two.
“We have a lot of the same riders that we had last year, but it's a horse show so anything can happen,” Zimmerman said. “They came in with their A-game. They had the mindset and the technique and the tools. It was a lot of fun to see.”
Three Findlay team seniors had their graduation day yesterday. The team will start back up in August and the riders will have to earn their spots on the team for next year.
“We won’t have a whole brand-new team, I'm sure, but they'll all be fighting for their spot on the team again,” he said.
This is the University of Findlay’s seventh IHSA AQHA Team National Championship.
UNIVERSITY OF FINDLAY’S JULIA ROSHELLI SWEEPS HER DIVISIONS AND EARNS THE AQHA HIGH POINT RIDER AWARD AND AQHA TEAM OPEN CHAMPION
Julia Roshelli won every class she qualified for at Nationals. She earned the championship honors in Individual Open Reining, AQHA Team Open Horsemanship and the AQHA High Point Rider. Ironically, the University of Findlay senior’s photo graced this year’s IHSA 40th Anniversary of the Western Divisions graphic.
“It’s a little unreal,” Roshelli said. “This has just been a huge goal of mine, you know, for all four years.”
This was Roshelli’s first full year starting in the open division.
“From day-one I was going for this and I've worked hard and my coaches have helped me along the way. It's a great way to end my senior year.
Roshelli rode Louise, owned by University of Findlay in the AQHA High Point Rider Reining Phase and Sarah from Alfred University in the AQHA Open Horsemanship, which helped to seal the deal for the Findlay team.
KRISTA FROM UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-RIVER FALLS CLAIMS THE AQHA TEAM ADVANCED WESTERN HORSEMANSHIP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
Krista Schoenfelder, a University of Wisconsin-River Falls sophomore from Rochester, Minnesota, was thrilled with her draw for the AQHA Team Advanced class. Honey, owned by the University of Findlay, stepped up for Schoenfelder.
“She extends, she was a good draw,” she said. “That's all I wanted.”
Schoenfelder said that her coach Janie Huot and her team captain Danielle Paulson were instrumental in getting her mentally prepared for Nationals.
‘Don't break, don't use a lot of leg and hit your marks,’ was what Huot told Schoenfelder before she entered the ring.
FINDLAY’S JAIME KITTLE FROM PULLS OFF THE WIN IN INDIVIDUAL ADVANCED WESTERN HORSEMANSHIP
Last year, Jamie Kittle, a sophomore at the University of Findlay from Novinger, Missouri, was third in Individual Novice. This year, he earned the IHSA national championship of the Individual Advanced Horsemanship division aboard Buddy, provided by Brandy Sloan. He credits his success to the quality of coaching he’s received at Findlay.
“We have several professionals and instructors that do this every day,” Kittle said. “They're all very personable. Anytime during the day when they aren't teaching class, they'll ride with you. We have a huge program and we have so many good horses. You really are working in the industry even though you're still going to school.”
Kittle just received his associate’s degree from the University of Findlay and he will move to Collinsville, Texas to work for CR Bradley, a much-admired coach at the University of Findlay.
IHSA NATIONALS JUDGE BOB KAIL WEIGHS IN
“The neatest thing about this event to me is that it reaches the whole way down to kids that may not ever get a chance to ride a horse,” said respected judge Bob Kail, who officiated the Western divisions alongside Kim Meyers. “It's not just a horse show, it's a career-oriented event to bring people together, to be around horses. It's a great competition.”
Kail explained that at an AQHA event or an NRHA event they judge the horse. For the IHSA, they judge the riders on how well they present those horses. They rarely ride the same horse and have no opportunity to warm those horses up or to know what they're like.
“They go in there cold turkey,” he said. “That's a tough thing to do.”
Kail said that the IHSA format helps to develop riders. “I’ve trained horses for 35-40 years,” he said. “Every time I rode a horse, it taught me something.”
TOP HORSES RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTION
Honey, owned by the University of Findlay, was awarded the SmartPak Most Popular Western Horse and the Triple Crown High Point Horse award went to Chester (also known as Cheddar Biscuit), from SUNY Oswego.
The sportsmanship awards went to rider Anna Woolsey from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, coach Amanda Jones, also from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, and volunteer Nicole Dempsey from SUNY Oswego.
The Youth Equestrian Development Association (YEDA) award went to Violet Roma Romanak from Miami University of Ohio.
The IHSA thanks all their generous sponsors, the competitors, teams, coaches, volunteers and horses for a successful National Championship Horse Show. We look forward to the 2020 season and next year's Nationals returning to Syracuse, New York.