May 27, 2010 -- On the rear window of the white Centenary College van en route from New Jersey to Lexington, Ky., was written: "654 miles. 23 people. 1 reason." The reason was Centenary's defense of its Collegiate Cup High Point Hunter Seat Team title at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships. This year, the 43rd edition of the IHSA Nationals was held May 6-9 in the new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, where the world's greatest horses and riders would soon meet in Lexington for the World Equestrian Games. Like those international equestrians, New Jersey's defending titlists were bringing their A-game.
As the team Collegiate Cup qualifiers began, Centenary delivered an opening stroke, thanks to Julie Connors winning the IHSA Perpetual Trophy in Novice Equitation Over Fences.
But while everyone was watching the front-runner, another team shrewdly navigated its way through the classes and, by the end of team competition on Saturday afternoon, had usurped the presumed favorite.
When the final points were tallied for the 2010 IHSA High Point Hunter Seat Team Collegiate Cup, Skidmore College of New York was eight points ahead (28 points overall), leaving Centenary College and University of Findlay (Ohio), tied for reserve at 20 points each. Skidmore College is no stranger to the Cup, having won in 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996 and 1999.
For Mount Holyoke College of western Massachusetts, there's rarely been a championship "dry spell." The Lyons have won two Collegiate Cups (2000, 2006) and produced one USEF/Cacchione Cup winner, Laena Romond (2002). This year, they added the name of their hunter seat team captain, Lindsay Sceats, to the Cacchione Cup's list of champions. Sceats earned a final total score of 175 points. Second-place (172) went to Savannah College of Art and Design in South Carolina with Kelse Bonham.
Sceats steps into her new role as Cacchione Cup champion at a unique juncture in the history of the trophy. First presented in 1972 (to Duncan Peters, University of Connecticut) and named in loving memory of Marty Cacchione, father of IHSA co-founder and executive director Bob Cacchione, the annual presentation of the Cacchione Cup to the high point individual hunter seat rider has been one of the most prestigious events on the Nationals program.
IHSA retired its original Cacchione Cup in a special Friday evening celebration at the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park and unveiled a new trophy, created by figurative metal sculptor Kathryn Capley and produced by Hodges Badge Company. Among those in attendance to welcome the new trophy were past Cacchione Cup champions, including inaugural recipient, Peters ('72, UConn), Suzie Horrigan Campbell ('76, Colby Sawyer), two-time champion, Heidi Bossow Casciaro ('85, '87, Hollins), James Fairclough II, ('08, Drew), and 2009 winner, Lindsay Clark (Centenary).
Utah State University marketing major Jason Romney smoked his competition in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Open Reining Class. Romney and the 14.3-hand chestnut, Wenloch Haidabilly (poster horse for the University of Findlay Western Equitation Program), scored 144 points on NRHA Pattern 9 to decisively clinch the class and its 2010 NRHA Morrison Bronze Reining Trophy, NHRA Pewter Reining Trophy and Tex Tan Saddle sponsored by AQHA. The duo finished seven-a-half points ahead of reserve titlist Alexandra Jones (136.5 points) riding for Berry College of Georgia.
Rounding out the top three positions after Romney in the class were Jones, Kelsey Moody (135 points) for St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina, and Jillian Staurowsky (134 points) for the University of Delaware.
The next day Romney turned in a 139-point performance on Pattern 5 in the final phase of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) High Point Western Rider standings to bolster his overall score to 211 points. He clinched a second Tex Tan saddle and the 2010 IHSA/AQHA High Point Western Rider trophy. Reserve went to Sabrina Wilson of Stanford University.
The University of Findlay of Ohio again steered course in Lexington for the AQHA High Point Team Western trophy and successfully defended their 2009 title. Findlay scored 31 points overall, defeating Ohio University by 10 points, thanks to winning rides by students like Andrew Wolf, winner of the AQHA Open Reining Pattern class.
In more team competition, Heather Kiesewetter won the Intermediate Western Horsemanship, and Spencer Zimmerman captured first place in the Novice Western Horsemanship.
In individual competition, Kiesewetter won the Beginner Western Horsemanship, and Ashley Wolf was victorious in the Intermediate Western Horsemanship. Madison Hallas was the top placer in the Novice Western Horsemanship ,and Ashley Drown was first in the Advanced Western Horsemanship. Katie Morehead ended up third overall for the AQHA Western High Point Rider Award.
The 2010 championships were sponsored in part by Practical Horseman and Horse & Rider magazines. In 2011, the 44th edition of the IHSA National Championships will return to Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park. For more information about the IHSA, visit www.IHSAinc.com.