SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The final day of the 2019 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championships featured the conclusion of the Western divisions.

Julia Roshelli, of Collegeville, Pa. and won every class she qualified for at Nationals. She earned the championship honors in Individual Open Reining, AQHA Team Open Horsemanship and the AQHA High Point Rider. Ironically, the University of Findlay senior’s photo graced this year’s IHSA 40th Anniversary of the Western Divisions graphic.

“It’s a little unreal,” Roshelli said. “This has just been a huge goal of mine, you know, for all four years.”

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This was Roshelli’s first full year competing in the open division.

“From day-one I was going for this and I've worked hard and my coaches have helped me along the way. It's a great way to end my senior year.

Roshelli rode Louise, owned by the University of Findlay in the AQHA High Point Rider Reining Phase and Sarah from Alfred University in the AQHA Open Horsemanship, which helped to seal the deal for the Findlay team.

The University of Findlay successfully defended their 2018 title and took home the trophy for the second consecutive year with 49 points. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls was named reserve champion with 41 points and Ohio State University was a close third with 39 points.

Spencer Zimmerman, of Newport, Pa., who became the Findlay Oilers’ head coach for the 2017-2018 season is now two-for-two.

“We have a lot of the same riders that we had last year, but it's a horse show so anything can happen,” Zimmerman said. “They came in with their A-game. They had the mindset and the technique and the tools. It was a lot of fun to see.”

Three Findlay team seniors had their graduation day. The team will start back up in August and the riders will have to earn their spots on the team for next year.

“We won’t have a whole brand-new team, I'm sure, but they'll all be fighting for their spot on the team again,” he said.

This is the University of Findlay’s seventh IHSA AQHA Team National Championship.

Advanced Western Horsemanship

Kristie Wagner, of Alfred University was reserve champion in the Advanced Western Horsemanship. She only qualified to compete in the nationals after getting medical clearance to ride just before the regionals. A few weeks earlier she had been kicked by a horse and ended up in the intensive care unit.

Judge Bob Kail Weighs In

“The neatest thing about this event to me is that it reaches the whole way down to kids that may not ever get a chance to ride a horse,” said respected judge Bob Kail, who officiated the Western divisions alongside Kim Meyers. “It's not just a horse show, it's a career-oriented event to bring people together, to be around horses. It's a great competition.”

Kail explained that at an AQHA event or an NRHA event they judge the horse. For the IHSA, they judge the riders on how well they present those horses. They rarely ride the same horse and have no opportunity to warm those horses up or to know what they're like.

“They go in there cold turkey,” he said. “That's a tough thing to do.”

Kail said that the IHSA format helps to develop riders. “I’ve trained horses for 35-40 years,” he said. “Every time I rode a horse, it taught me something.”

The Triple Crown High Point Horse award went to Chester (also known as Cheddar Biscuit), from SUNY Oswego.

Nicole Dempsey from SUNY Oswego earned one of three sportsmanship awards. She volunteered at the event.

This year, the IHSA celebrated 40 years of Western divisions. A presentation began with a hitch of six Belgian draft horses led by the Morrisville State College lapping the arena for a demonstration with Bob Cacchione aboard. Then, AQHA judging professional Joe Carter and Ohio State coach Ollie Griffith joined Cacchione to speak to the audience about the longtime relationship with the AQHA. Concluding the presentation, Cacchione presented a plaque to AQHA representatives. 

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