Reflecting on an Unforgettable Week at the IHSA Nationals 

This past week has been so bittersweet. Everything happened so quickly that I don’t think I realized that I had my last ride in my Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) career until after I had finished. 

But I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it all to end. Throughout the entire competition, I was fortunate to draw some amazing horses, giving me the opportunity to have some of the best rides I’ve had in the show pen.  

Clinching fourth in team ranch riding astride Murray State’s Boone and capturing third in individual level II horsemanship on Millie, kindly lent by Albion, surpassed anything I could have imagined. Boone and Millie were great draws, they gave me everything I asked for and were so easy to get along with, stayed with me the whole time.  

Looking back, had someone told me three years ago where I’d find myself today, I would’ve told them they were delusional.  

Starting out my competition in Youth Equestrian Development Association (YEDA) was purely for the love of the sport and horses. However, early in my career, my coaches Kent and Kelly Morris saw potential and pushed me to become a better rider. This led me to my current team at Black Hawk College and my coach and mentor Bekah Irish.  

Unexpected Challenges  

In my two years at Black Hawk College, I have been a part of the IHSA nationals both years and loved my experience traveling as a team.  

Our team’s camaraderie made each trip an adventure filled with laughter, dance, and unwavering support—ensuring there was never a dull moment. Among these cherished memories, my horsemanship ride from this year stands out, etched in my mind for its sheer unpredictability.  

It was the second class of the day and I always wait to get ready because I worry about getting my shirt dirty. We had just drawn our horses and I had drawn Millie. As I was discussing Millie with my teammates who had previously ridden her, my other teammates were helping me into my chaps.  

While they were helping me into my chaps, my pants got caught in the zipper and we couldn’t get them unstuck. Of course, at the same time, I was being called to report to the arena and mount Millie. They were kind enough to hold the class for me, but in the meantime, we were trying everything we could to get my chaps free. At one point someone even pulled out a pocketknife to cut my pants out of the zipper itself.  

Thankfully I had chap extenders attached to my chaps and was eventually able to get them removed. But not until my pants had a big hole from being cut and my thigh bruised from being pinched.  

However, without missing a beat another teammate rushed into action and ran back to the stalls to get another pair of chaps and next thing I knew, I was showing. 

Having a Community 

I am so grateful for all the support and help of my fellow teammates and a couple of well-seasoned show moms. And the hole in my pants will serve as the best memory of all the teamwork and support. 

My coach has always been very adamant about never letting something get to you and to move on and not let it stress you, and we all know horse showing is all mental. So even with all the rigmarole I went out, took a deep breath, and left it all in the arena. 

So I suppose whether it’s cheering on the side lines or having a group of people trying to get your zipper unstuck on your pants, Nationals would not be the same without the amazing teammates, coach, and families we surround ourselves with. 

[Learn more about IHSA Nationals HERE]

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