Southwest Virginia collegiate team takes third at IHSA Nationals

Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College took home the yellow ribbon at the 2023 IHSA National Championships held recently at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The young team was made up of one junior, six sophomores, and one freshman, with only two of the riders having ridden at the Nationals before.

The team’s riders included:

  • Mia Sisson of Warren, Rhode Island, third in Intermediate Flat
  • Kendall Madison of Westtown, New York, champion in Limit Flat
  • Sierra Smith of Olathe, Kansas, third in Limit Over Fences
  • Maddie Whitley of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, in Novice
  • Thomas Carter of Asheville, North Carolina, fourth in Introductory
  • Emma Gurley of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, sixth in Intermediate Over Fences
  • Lindsay Show of Newark, Delaware in Open Flat
  • Derek Holt of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in Open Over Fences

IHSA offers individual and team competition in hunter seat equitation, western horsemanship, ranch riding and reining at more than 400 member colleges and universities and 10,000 members in 47 states and Canada. The top two teams from each of eight zones compete for the national title.

This year’s teams were:

  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Sacred Heart University
  • Long Island University
  • Skidmore College
  • Centenary University
  • University of Delaware
  • Goucher College
  • Emory & Henry College
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • University of South Carolina
  • Otterbein University
  • University of Findlay
  • Purdue University
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Stanford University
  • University of Southern California

Membership in IHSA means that college students can participate in horse shows regardless of their experience or financial status. Students compete from beginner through advanced with suitable, provided horses, eliminating the expense of horse ownership.

The organization was established in 1967 by Robert “Bob” Cacchione as a sophomore attending Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. Some of the most notable riders in show jumping and Western disciplines competed in IHSA including Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden.

Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry were national champions in 2022 and 2019. Before its closure and the equestrian program’s move to Emory & Henry College, Virginia Intermont College were national champions in 2007, 2005, and 2004.

Individual competition

IHSA Nationals also includes individual competition. Area riders included:

  • Clare O’Brien of Washington and Lee University in Intermediate Equitation Over Fences
  • Mallory Francis of Hollins University, sixth, in Intermediate Equitation Over Fences and fourth in Equitation on the Flat
  • Marran Vansickle of Sweet Briar College eighth in Limit Equitation Over Fences and Limit Equitation on the Flat
  • Elyssa Parker of Hollins University in Novice Equitation
  • Margaret Saunders of Liberty University in Open Equitation on the Flat
  • Charleez Simcik of Virginia Tech in IHSA Hunter Seat High Point Rider Over Fences (Cacchione Cup)
  • Lauren Daniel of William and Mary, seventh in Intermediate Equitation on the Flat. Daniel is from Rocky Mount, Virginia.