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<em>Journal</em>

IHSA Nationals: May 3

Western competition begins with reining at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national finals.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal
May 3, 2013

Rebekah Irish rides for the University of Findlay

Rebekah Irish represents the University of Findlay as she wins the team reining competition May 3 at the IHSA national finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Larri Jo Starkey photo) For more photos, scroll to the slide show below.

A tight reining contest kicked off western May 3 at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national finals.

At this year’s finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Rebekah Irish won the team open reining competition for the University of Findlay by a narrow margin above the 2012 winner, Austin Griffith of Ohio State University. Addie Davis of West Texas A&M University was third.

“I was really fortunate and I drew a great horse and he took care of me,” Bekah said after the win for her team. “(He was a big stopper and turned around.) I was really pleased with him, a really honest horse.”

In IHSA competition, riders draw for horses and have no warm-up time on them. Riders advance through zones and semifinals to qualify for national competition in team and individual competition. AQHA sponsors the trophies for the team contests, from beginner to open, as well as the overall team traveling trophy.

“Prior to IHSA, I rode a lot and trained a lot but I didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to show, and (IHSA has) really helped me develop my showmanship skills in the arena,” Bekah said. “I feel like I’ve really grown there. It’s been fun.”

Bekah is one of several seniors representing Findlay who missed graduation in Ohio to compete at IHSA nationals. During the parade of western teams, IHSA founder Bob Cacchione called the seniors out front and presented their diplomas to them.

Bekah will be attending grad school next year, but she doesn’t know where.

“I’m narrowing that down still,” she said.

Also on May 3, riders competed in the first half of the AQHA high-point western rider competition, with the rail phase sponsored by Ollie and Debbie Griffith. On May 5, the riders will compete in the reining phase for the prestigious individual award.

IHSA National Finals Journal Coverage

  • May 5 – West Texas A&M University wins the national western title at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national finals.
  • May 4 – Two western teams are tied for the top spot after two days of Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competition.
  • May 3 – Western competition begins with reining at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national finals.