HARRISBURG, Pa.--The Skidmore Thoroughbreds of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., maintained a lead throughout the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championship and finished with 30 points to win the Collegiate Cup on May 6 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
Reserve champions Savannah College of Art and Design were just two points behind, and Stanford University was third with 22 points.
Skidmore head coach Cindy Ford credited the teamwork of assistant coach Belinda Colgan and the rest of the staff for their success.
This group, she said, could work anywhere at the top of the industry.
She also complimented her students for being academically strong, motivated and hard-working.
The strong string of Skidmore horses also contribure to their success.
“I’m careful who I choose on my team,” Ford said. “We give the students a lot of attention. I have an amazing group of horses that have been donated to us. They’re cared for as show horses. They have the best veterinarians, the best farriers and they mean the world to us. Between the horses, the staff and the students it’s just a no-brainer. And yet, It still does become the luck of the draw.”
SKIDMORE'S Clay, who produced many top rounds, including one for Centenary University junior, Michael Andrade, was awarded the SmartPak Most Popular Hunter Seat Horse.
Andrade earned the national championship on Clay in Open Equitation Over Fences on opening day, May 3.
Andrade was in second place at the end of the first round,and the judges asked the top-four riders to return for a challenging test.
They were asked to counter canter two jumps and lengthen the stride to the last jump.
“He’s a stylish rider, and the horse is a lovely horse,” said Heather Clark, who coaches the Centenary University team in Allenton, Pa., along with Michael Dowling.
“He did a beautiful job of pulling off the counter canter,” Dowling said. “He also demonstrated a true lengthening of stride. He never got out of the tack—it wasn’t a hand gallop. He read the horse well and improved. I think that is really important in intercollegiate riding. We’re grateful for the very nice horse provided by Skidmore.”
“It’s awesome, it means a lot,” said Andrade, who won both the Open Flat in both Team and Individual in 2017. “I have to thank Heather Clark and Michael Dowling for all they do. I was told he only landed on the left lead, so going into the first round I sank into the tack a bit more and got used to him and into the work off. I knew his stride, and he did everything for me. I’m so happy for that. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Andrade hopes to ride professionally after school.
Makayla Benjamin of Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va., won the Cacchione Cup.
Judges Diane Carney and Tony Sgarlata detcided that the format of the final work-off phase of the Cacchione Cup would be a challenging course over fences.
In a major upset, Makayla Benjamin, a senior at Sweet Briar, went from eighth place in the top 10 to win the championship.
She drew Collins who was the ride for reserve champion, Mollie Kowalchikv in the first phase.
Benjamin has ridden all her life and competed in the Big Eq.
Both her parents rode in the IHSA and met while competing at Purdue University.
She has been on the IHSA team all four years at Sweet Briar, but this is her first time at Nationals.
“Over fences is always my stronger suit,” she said. “I was third after the first phase. On the flat I had a really good horse, Gunner, from West Point. I was just happy to come back to test with the top 10. I thought, ‘I can do this.’”
When Benjamin knew she had drawn Collins, she made the decision to make the handier turn to the trot jump.
“He was a joy to ride,” she said. “It (the course) posed a lot of questions and I answered most of them right. I was shocked that I was actually in the top three.”
Benjamin is superstitious and tends to keep to a ritual before competing.
She has a lucky pair of socks that she wore yesterday and didn’t have on for the final phase.
“I put a clean pair of socks on,” she said. “I guess it worked.”
Benjamin is a mathematical economics major with a double minor in business and engineering.
She will spend some time working at Bitterroot Ranch, a dude ranch in Wyoming, before starting her corporate job in February.
Collins, owned by Cazenovia College, was awarded the Triple Crown High Point Hunter Seat Horse.
Morgan Knerr from University of Findlay in Ohio and her best friend, Tyler Kirby from Ohio State University, were tied at 148 points after their first reining pattern.
The judges asked the two top contenders to swap horses and return for a showdown.
Knerr, who rode Karen Black’s Brie in the first round, mounted Gunny, also owned by Black.
In the end, the judges gave Knerr the top prize.
“She was so good,” Knerr said. “I knew it was a tough competition with Tyler. I know he’s a good rider. I was excited to go back in the arena and do it again.”
Knerr is a freshman studying pharmacy.
She hopes to have a career in hospital pharmacy and continue riding.
“Both my parents are involved in reining and I’ve grown up in the reining industry,” she said.
Before joining the University of Findlay, Knerr and Kirby rode at Autumn Rose with the Griffiths and competed together in the NRHA.
Michael Janson from Boston University won the Collegiate Cup Open Equitation Over Fences.