Virginia Intermont College did their homework before showing up at the Intercollegiate Dressage Association National Championship at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, N.C., yesterday, Saturday, April 24. Their hard work paid off when they walked away with the school’s third championship.
“You never know,” said Lisa Moosmueller-Terry, VIC’s coach for the past ten years. “I knew we would do well, the girls were strong, and we were hoping for a top five finish but we’ll take first!”
VIC’s first level rider, Elizabeth Mirson, 21, set the bar high when she placed second, and her teammates quickly followed her lead. Upper training rider GiGi Good, 21, and lower training rider, Claire Almon, finished second in both their classes to put VIC on the top of the pack. Chelsea Dressler, VIC’s introductory rider, sealed the win with her ninth placed finished.
“There’s a lot of pressure because you’re not an individual,” said Dressler, 22. “If you do poorly it effects everyone. It pushes you to want to be better every day so you can contribute to the team.”
VIC’s team members practiced heavily in the weeks leading up to the competition, and all the riders felt that the added practices made their win possible.
“I have learned more in the past 2-3 weeks of preparing for this than in the past year,” said Good with a laugh. “We really, really trained for this. The riding was intense, we’d ride 3-4 horses a day, test after test after test. I’ve improved in the past week or so!”
This year’s competition was one of the closest yet, with three teams tying for second place. The University of Florida emerged as the reserve champions, Virginia Tech claimed third, the University of Findlay was fourth, and Mount Holyoke College finished fifth. Many of the riders competing at these championships hope to eventually enter the industry as professionals, and Moosemueller-Terry believes that IDA and other intercollegiate programs are a great foundation.
“They get opportunity to ride horses they may never get to ride otherwise. Some of the horses are fabulous,” she said. “It’s the only time in your riding career where it becomes more than you and your horse. It’s a team effort. You don’t get that anywhere else.”
Twenty schools from across the country were represented at the championships.
Individual Champions Crowned
Jessica Forend, a senior at Johnson and Wales University, took home her third IDA National Championship when she won the first level title today, Sunday, April 25.
“My coach was more stressed out than I was,” Forend laughed about defending her upper and lower training titles. “I’m pretty calm and cool until the morning I ride. I’m in a zone when I get on the horse. It’s my comfort zone.”
Forend is planning on working with Betsy Steiner after her upcoming graduation.
In her first trip to nationals, Kaitlin Young, a junior, clinched the upper training championship for Michigan State. The school is only in its third full year of IDA competition, and qualified a team for the first time this year.
“I was more nervous yesterday,” said Young, who also rode upper training for her team. “Today I took a deep breath and said, ‘hey I qualified I deserve to be here’ and went in and did my best.
Young is a biochemistry and math major and has already been accepted into Michigan State’s veterinary program.
Claire Almon took home another championship for Virginia Intermont in the lower training division, and credited Virginia Tech rider, Abby Zezeski for an equally good ride on Profound.
“The girl who rode him before me had a great ride. She deserves credit for riding him just as well as I did,” said Almon. “It was fun to go in the ring and take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.”
The last championship of the competition also went home to VIC. Averi Frederickson, 20, clinched the championship with a lovely ride aboard Reagan.
“I thought I would be somewhere in the middle, but it all depends on the horse you get,” said Fredrickson. “I didn’t know what nationals was going to be like. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m glad I won!”
The IDA was formerly founded in 2001. The organization now has 54 member colleges in 9 different regions.