Equestrian Teams Set to Compete at Varsity Championships
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Kansas State women’s equestrian team trots into the postseason this weekend, as the Wildcats travel to Conyers, Ga. for the first of two season-ending shows at the Varsity Equestrian Championships to be held at the Georgia International Horse Park.
The third annual Varsity Championships will include 12 teams from across the country, including reigning champion Georgia, SEC Champion Auburn, Brown, Fresno State, Oklahoma State, Pace, Sacred Heart, South Carolina, Stonehill College, Texas A&M and West Texas A&M. The championship will serve as the final tune-up for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National competition, which will be held May 7-9 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Varsity Championships will feature two events for both the English and western teams. The English riders will compete in equitation over fences and equitation on the flat. These two categories will be split into three sections with competitors from each school participating in each section. The western competition includes horsemanship and reining with the section breakdown the same as the English show.
The big difference between this show and a normal collegiate equestrian show is that riders are graded by two judges as opposed to one in normal IHSA competitions, excluding IHSA Nationals.
Last year at the Varsity Equestrian Championships, Kansas State came in fourth overall with 29 points behind champion Georgia (42), runner-up Oklahoma State (39) and third-place finisher Texas A&M (35). The western team placed third out of eight squads with 22 points, while the English team finished ninth out of 12 squads with seven points.
Individually, the Wildcats had seven riders place in the top six. Riders returning to this year’s competition include senior Brandi Vogel and juniors Erin Peery, Dehlia Burdan and Allison Woodworth.
Vogel led the team with their only first-place finish in reining and also brought home a red ribbon (second place) in horsemanship. Peery also performed well, garnering second and third place finishes in western horsemanship and reining, respectively. Other returnees include Burdan, who captured fifth place in equitation over fences and Woodworth, who came in eighth in equitation on the flat.
This year’s team consists of veterans Vogel and Peery, who will ride for the western team, along with senior Melissa Becking and freshman Nicole Ruff. Burdan and Woodworth will be joined by freshman Heather Chatham and sophomore Meghan Felts on the English team.
“Both sides are practicing great,” said head coach Lindsay Breidenthal. “Both Meghan (assistant coach Cunningham) and I feel we have a chance to place high this year. We are very excited to compete against other varsity schools.”
Friday’s competitions are set to start at 8:30 a.m. and will consist of equitation on the flat and western horsemanship. The two-day show will continue on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with reining and equitation on the fences.