USEF/Cacchione Cup Competition Begins with Impressive Rides | Ranch Riding Debuts at IHSA National Championship Horse Show

HARRISBURG, Pa. – May 6, 2022 – Day two of the 2022 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championship Horse Show included competitive rounds in the USEF/Cacchione Cup and the debut of Ranch Riding.

The USEF/Cacchione Cup Over Fences class kicked off day two of competition. Twenty-four horse-and-rider combinations navigated the course designed by William Yeager. The course of 10 fences, starting with a bending seven-stride line, provided riders with options at fence one and fence five. Flowing approaches and turns gave riders the opportunity to showcase their mount and riding abilities. Conservative rides dominated the division and were rewarded with high scores. Pace and track were key to a smooth and successful round. 

“My goal was to make a straightforward, inviting course that required the riders to have to think and make some decisions when they were on course,” Yeager said. “I think it rode well. Just because there are options available, doesn't always mean you have to take them. I gave them a lot of time to that last jump and it gave them an opportunity to allow for a nice gap because that was the biggest jump on course as well. Most of them succeeded with that.”

Miami University of Ohio senior Lilly French (Cleveland, Ohio) was first on course this morning aboard Houdini, the dark bay gelding from Centenary University. “You would think it [going first] would be nerve wracking,” French said. “But I've gone first basically all year, including at Zones. I normally go first, so I wasn't actually too nervous.” 

Those nerves of steel proved beneficial as French and Houdini recorded the top score of 88 and held the lead throughout the class. French and her Miami University Equestrian Team (MUET) teammates manifested the perfect draw in Houdini. “At team dinner last night we said, ‘Houdini, Houdini, Houdini,’” French said. “I was thrilled when I got him. It was a perfect horse for me.” French put her leg on to establish the pace she wanted then was able to be light in the tack and hunt Houdini around the course. 


Lilly French (Miami University of Ohio) riding Houdini (Centenary University) to the top score in the USEF/Cacchione Cup Over Fences.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“It was nice that they made us start with the bending line,” French said. “[It] Asked a good first question. Then with the nice rollbacks and the four [stride], I liked it.”

The top-four riders after the over fences round were within two points of each other. The flat class was divided into two sections of 12 riders. After the two sections flatted, Penn State Equestrian Team junior Julianna Empie rode Maverick (Savannah College of Art and Design) to an impressive score of 93. Combined with her 87.5 over fences, Empie takes the lead going into the work-off round.


Maddy_Falkowitz-Julianna Empie - Cacchione Cup Flat

Julianna Empie (Penn State University) patting Maverick
after the Cacchione Cup Flat Section B.
Photo by Maddy Falkowitz

The USEF/Cacchione Cup Work-Off round is scheduled for Saturday morning. The top-six riders will return for further testing. The work-off can include any of the 19 tests listed in the US Equestrian Federation (USEF) Rulebook including a halt, hand gallop, trot fence, riding without stirrups, counter canter and more.

USEF/Cacchione Cup competition is challenging and the work-off round is sure to be exciting and could rattle the top placings.


Team Open Reining spectators brought some noise to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. Cheers echoed through the arena as nine riders completed the pattern. The top-three riders finished in a two-and-a-half-point spread. 

Teah Taylor (Amarillo, Texas), a junior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana), wowed the judges and rode to a top score of 142 aboard Juice, provided by Morehead State. Taylor had such a nice sliding stop with Juice on the judges’ line that her hat flew off landing on the arena footing. The crowd cheered as she finished the pattern.

Tessa Wrice - Teah Taylor - Reining
Teah Taylor was all smiles after her round aboard Juice in the Team Open Reining. Photo by Tessa Wrice

Also competing on Juice and finishing with a score of 141.5 – just a half-point behind Taylor – was Raeanne Kaz (Jim Falls, Wisconsin), a senior at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Rounding out the top three was West Texas A&M University senior Reilly Dhaliwal (Boulder, Colorado) with the Black Hawk College-owned gelding, Dustin.


Ranch Riding has proven to be a popular class at IHSA shows since its inception for the 2020-2021 season. During its inaugural season, IHSA shows were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2022 marks the debut of Ranch Riding at the IHSA National Championship Horse Show.

Ranch Riding showcases maneuvers commonly used in ranch work, such as gait extensions and turnarounds with a more forward-moving horse. Judges will be looking for a smooth and competent horse-and-rider team that could tackle any job on a working ranch. Much like the reining division, the crowd gets involved with hoots and hollers during the rounds. 

Twelve riders from member schools across the country qualified for the NRHA/AQHA Individual Ranch Riding National Championship class.

Taking the top nod and the Gale A. Hulick Memorical Trophy is West Texas A&M freshman Stephanie Miller (Loveland, Colorado) riding Slim from Middle Tennessee State University. Miller went from the Collegiate Cup Novice Equitation on the Flat to being the first ever rider in the ring for the National Championship Individual Ranch Riding class. 

“There's really no words to describe it,” Miller said. “I couldn't have done this without my team and my coach. This is my first year doing the Ranch Riding. It's been crazy, but it's been amazing.”

West Texas A&M Head Coach Amanda Ellis had high praise for Miller. “Stephanie has worked super hard,” Ellis said. “We've had a great group of horses. Our other coach that helps with the Ranch Riding, Maggie Murphy, has spent a lot of time with them on just feel. It's okay for it to be a big mover. It's okay for them to go forward and what to do with that energy. It is a lot less about position and a lot more about just riding horses, which is fun to go back to.”

Chloe Sullivan (Pottstown, Pennsylvania) from Bloomsburg University on Red from Cazenovia College earned the reserve championship and University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Amber Hiscock (McKinney, Texas) aboard Oscar provided by St. Andrews University rounds out the top three.


Stephanie Miller - West Texas A&M - Ind. Ranch Riding Champ - 22 Nationals - Credit EQ Media
Stephanie Miller from Texas A&M with Bob Cacchione, Middle Tennessee State's Andrew Rego and Texas A&M Head Coach Amanda Ellis. Photos by EQ Media


In the AQHA Individual Open Western Horsemanship class, 12 pairs ride a pattern showcasing the extended jog, canter circles and 360-degree turns. Riders took turns using the arena to best exhibit their mounts. 

After a competitive class, Kamryn Woodard (Norman, Oklahoma) from West Texas A&M and Wayne (Black Hawk College) took home the championship prize besting the field. The reserve call went to Sara Beth Felker (Cross, South Carolina) from St. Andrews University (Laurinburg, North Carolina). Rounding out the top three was Jordan Martin (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) aboard Fish, a home mount from Middle Tennessee State University. 


Kamryn Woodard - West Texas A&M - Ind Open Horsemanship Champ - Credit Tessa Wrice

Kamryn Woodard celebrates when she is announced Champion of the AQHA Individual Open Western Horsemanship. Photo by Tessa Wrice