Hackettstown, N.J. – May 4, 2017 – Twelve collegiate dressage teams made the journey to New Jersey over the weekend to vie for the opportunity to win the coveted Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) National Championship, hosted by Centenary College.
The IDA program is a unique opportunity that tests horsemanship and encourages team comradery. Competing in teams of four with one rider per level, they rode at Introductory Level (Intro A and Intro B), Lower Training Level (Intro C and Training Level Test 1), Upper Training Level (Training Level Test 2 and 3) and First Level. Riders drew unfamiliar horses, and after a brief warm-up, they are asked to head down centerline.
After coming in second in last year’s IDA National Championship, Averett University returned better than ever to claim the college’s first dressage national title. The team consisted of Kasey Toth, Hannah Walters, Kristen Kelley and Megan Grimes. Leading the way after placing first in the Upper Training division, senior Kasey Toth was thrilled with her ride that helped the Averett Cougars clinch the team championship.
“My time at nationals was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Toth said. “The team was so supportive, and most of all, we made our coach proud. Honestly, it feels amazing! It’s a very cool title to have and a big accomplishment for me. Words can’t describe it. I chose IDA because I wanted to gain experience in the intercollegiate world and to be able to go to other schools to ride their horses, see their training methods and to meet new people as well.”
Earning the reserve championship team title was Mount Holyoke College. Their team was made up of Mika McKinney, Ellie Demmons, Shannon McCarley and Sarah Etzel. Team captain, McKinney, placed first in the First Level division.
“It feels really good! It’s definitely been a long journey of getting to where I am,” McKinney explained. “Coming into the season, the goal was to get to nationals, which hasn’t happened since I’ve been on the team — so it’s pretty exciting to be here! I chose IDA because I knew I wanted to continue riding during college, and I chose Mount Holyoke because of the dressage team and science program.”
In addition to the team competition, the IDA also held an individual championship at each of the four levels. Meghan Watt, a junior from the University of Florida, brought three years of experience to nationals to help her claim the First Level Individual Championship with a 71.176 percent.
“I am happy and surprised to win!” Watt said. “The horse I rode was sensitive but a wonderful draw. The test felt good. I tried to ride accurately, which I think helped my ride.”
Based on her scores throughout the season, senior Ellie Demmons, from Mount Holyoke College, earned a wildcard slot to compete at nationals in the Upper Training Level division. Demmons won the championship title with a 72.159 percent.
“This win has been a long time coming and it is pretty exciting being here together as a team,” Demmons explained.
In the Lower Training Level division, Rachel Cellini from Otterbein University, won with a 75.587 percent. “We have so much fun as a team!” Cellini said. “Our coach, Jennifer Roth, is fabulous and helped prepare me for this experience”
Rounding out the final division was Meredith Leclerc, a freshman from Otterbein University, and she claimed the Intro Level National Championship with a 73.281 percent.
“I had not ridden dressage before college — I have learned so much!” Leclerc said. “I have great coaches and I have come a long way since my first show.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Affeld from Lake Erie College won the USDF Quiz Bowl and was awarded a month-long internship at Hilltop Farm.
“All of my years of showing helped me prepare [for the Quiz Bowl], and in Pony Club we learned all about the rules and theory and that helped a lot too!” Affeld said.
Results: IDA National Team Championship
1. Averett University
2. Mount Holyoke College
3. Emory & Henry College
4. Centenary University
5. Cazenovia College
6. University of Findlay
7. Lake Erie College
8. Miami University of Ohio
9. Virginia Tech
10. California Polytechnic State University
11. University of Florida
12. University of New Hampshire
Results: IDA National Individual Championship
1. Meghan Watt/University of Florida/71.176
2. Mallory Chambers/Centenary University/70.882
3. Chloe Ralston/University of Connecticut/70.073
Upper Training Level
1. Ellie Demmons/Mount Holyoke College/72.159
2. Leah Koskinen/Otterbein University/72.045
3. Kathryn Maharis/Emory & Henry College/69.432
Lower Training Level
1. Rachel Cellini/Otterbein University/75.587
2. Madeline Miller/University of Findlay/72.935
3. Sierra Davenport/Emory & Henry College/72.282
1. Megan Leclerc/University of Otterbein/73.281
2. Julia Westwell/University of New Hampshire/71.562
3. Hannah Phillips/Emory & Henry/69.531