IHSA Nationals: Day 2

From Elizabeth Kieffer

Arriving at the Farm Show Complex today for our first day of competition, our senior captain and high-point rider Alie said, “Girls, repeat after me: I!”

And we yelled, “I!”

And she said, “I BELIEVE.” 

And again we responded, “I BELIEVE.” 

And she finished, “I BELIEVE WE WILL WIN!” 

And we echoed it back with complete conviction.

Alie starts our team competition off today. I’m truly awed by her talent. When I watch her ride, I’m motivated to ride better, improve more, and become a fraction of the horseman that she is.

Waiting for her draw, I’m unworried. The horses at Nationals are outstanding. The owners of these donated horses cannot be thanked enough. This show of support, by letting us compete on their horses, is just incredible. 

Earlier today, our team participated in the Parade of Teams. These experiences, these memories, are the ones I’ll carry with me for a lifetime. Although I’ve not yet competed, myself and my team have received so many wonderful items from the sponsors of Nationals. The sheer number of sponsors leaves me unable to mention them all, but I will say: THANK YOU! Not only for all the amazing items but also for their support in this organization and this event.

Our team Novice rider also showed today, Miss Kayla Mack. She’s such a strong individual. She’s been fighting a nasty cold since before we left River Falls. Despite this, she keeps her spirit up, reminding us all to do the same. She’s also our only individual qualifier from UWRF. I know I speak for my team when I say we are all very proud of her.

Words cannot fully express how fortunate and blessed all of us girls feel to be here, participating in such a prestigious event and as always, living the dream.

From Alie Leonhart

Today is show day! Before any of the Western classes started, the Parade of Teams was held. All of the teams that attend the show are went into the arena to display their competitors. They sort out all of the teams by zone. The teams that qualified for the Collegiate Cup and the AQHA trophy got a huge tub full of prizes, including a Wahl clippers, some boot cleaner, and many other cool various prizes! The trickiest thing will be getting all of these cool prizes home!

Alie Leonhart and Wilson.

Today I showed in the AQHA Trophy Open Reining, along with eight other riders. We drew for horses during the drag before the class started. The draw happens on a Plinko board, just like on The Price Is Right! You walk up some stairs, and drop the puck down the Plinko board, and whatever slot it lands on corresponds to a horse. 

I drew a horse named Wilson, a bay stallion owned by Ohio State University. The draw went by what horse you drew, and Wilson was the first one to go, so we got to start off the whole Western competition. 

We walked into the pen, drawing out pattern 5 in the sand. Wilson was a great draw, and we ended up with a score of 141. With tough competition, we ended up sixth and gained a point for the team competition. 

The wonderful thing about IHSA is that they make a really big deal about being at Nationals because, it is a big deal! There are 10,000 IHSA riders, and 400 are here in Harrisburg competing. Prizes were handed out for placings, and Bob Cacchione shook everyone’s hand before the awards were handed out. For sixth, I got a really nice pad from Rod’s and a SmartPak gift card.

Kayla Mack showed today as well in AQHA Trophy Novice Horsemanship on a horse named Sarah, owned by Alfred University. As the last class of the day, she had wonderful rail work and a beautiful pattern and ended up fourth in the class, adding three points to our total this far! 

On to tomorrow!

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