Skidmore College Rider Earns First National Championship Title on Day One of the 2023 IHSA National Championship Horse Show

Kenya Sanders-Skidmore College-Francoe-Miami University-Andrew Ryback Photography
2023 IHSA National Championship Individual Open Equitation Over Fences Winner Kenya Sanders (Skidmore College) on Francoe (Miami Unversity). Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Lexington, KY – May 4, 2023 –
Day one of the 2023 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championship Horse Show, hosted in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, showcased the top collegiate hunter seat riders in the country.

The Individual Open Equitation Over Fences was the first division of the day, with 16 riders vying for the national championship. Competition proved tough as eight riders posted scores of 80 or higher. After all riders navigated the Bill Yeager (Midland, Virginia) designed course, the top four, all with scores of 84 or better, were tested in a work-off round. The shortened course consisted of six of the original nine fences with no related distances.

Swapping horses for the test, Kenya Sanders (Skidmore College/Sherborn, Massachusetts), Boston University senior Elizabeth Nevins (Boston, Massachusetts), Elizabeth Orosz (Columbus, Ohio) representing Otterbein University (Westerville, Ohio) and Shannon Flynn, a student at George Mason University (GMU/Fairfax, Virginia) all returned to the ring to showcase their horsemanship skills.

First in the ring for the test, Skidmore College sophomore Kenya Sanders executed a beautiful round and rode to the win aboard the lovely bay gelding, Houdini, provided by Centenary University. "I knew I was fourth, so I just wanted to try to lay down the best round I could," said Sanders.

We made the plan that was the best for the horse we had. We walked through the steps and (focused) on doing everything I had practiced," she added.

Kayla Sanders - First Round - Ind. Open Eq Over Fences-2023 IHSA National Championship Horse show


Winning Work-Off Round - Ind. Open Eq Over Fences-2023 IHSA National Championship Horse show 

Taking home reserve champion was Elizabeth Nevins from Boston University aboard the 16.3h gray gelding Ralphie from Otterbein University. Rounding out the top three was Elizabeth Orosz and the Miami University mount, Francoe.

Other individual national champions crowned were the Intermediate Equitation Over Fences and Limit Equitation Over Fences. More high scores and great rides were produced, with many scoring in the high 70s and above.

After another challenging testing phase of the top-four riders, the 2023 Individual Intermediate Equitation Over Fences champion is Drew University (Madison, New Jersey) freshman Alyx Swope-Bell with Centenary University's Houdini. Madison Aguilar (West Palm Beach, Florida), a senior from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD/Savannah, Georgia) aboard Skidmore College's Mo and Keitly Archibald (Westport, Connecticut), a junior from Skidmore College, with Otterbein's Ralphie finished second and third respectively.

The Individual Limit Equitation Over Fences class had some tough competition, with nearly half of the class scoring in the 80s. Taking the top call and championship honors was Mea Handy from GMU, with Hollins University's 15.3h bay mare, Eloquence scoring an 83. Skidmore College senior Chloe Bell-Thomson (Buffalo, New York) and the SCAD-provided mount, Sammy, earned the reserve championship with a score of 82.5. Taking third, only one point behind Handy was Philine Weisbeek (Seattle, Washington), from Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) and Pizzarro, a 16h bay gelding from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

The team competition began with Team Limit Equitation Over Fences as the largest class of the day, with 18 riders. In one of the highest-scoring rounds of the day, another Skidmore College rider rose to the top. Junior Elise Sigety (Pipersville, Pennsylvania) rode the Hollins University mount, My Way, with a score of 85. The reserve call went to Alice Shea from the University of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina) and Gunner from Skidmore College. Sierra Smith (Olathe, Kansas), a sophomore from Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College (Emory, Virginia) aboard Pizzarro (Miami University), took the third-place prize.

After clearing and dragging the Alltech Arena, the equitation on-the-flat riders came out to strut their stuff. Judges Tony Sgarlata (Raleigh, North Carolina) and Robin Rost Brown (Ocala, Florida) watched the riders execute walk, trot and canter in both directions scrutinizing rider position, effectiveness and connection to their mounts.

Individual Intermediate Equitation on the Flat

Champion: Pauline Jodry (Stockton, New Jersey) / Delaware Valley University (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) / Sarah (Long Island University-Post)

Reserve Champion: Leah Driscoll (Kingston, Massachusetts) / University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts) / Elvis (Centenary University, Hackettstown, New Jersey)

Third: Erin O'Callahan (Sterling, Massachusetts) / University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) / Grant (SUNY Morrisville)

Individual Limit Equitation On the Flat

Champion: Madeline Cunningham (Hilton Head, South Carolina) / Maryville College (Maryville, Tennessee) / Sarah (Long Island Island University-Post, Brookville, New York)

Reserve Champion: Emmalyn Mirarchi (Harvard, Massachusetts) / Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Massachusetts) / Francoe (Miami University, Oxford, Ohio)

Third: Hudson Warren (Englewood, Colorado) / St. Lawrence University (Canton, New York) / My Way (Hollins University, Hollins, Virginia)

Team Limit Equitation on the Flat

Champion: Kendall Madison (Westtown, New York) / Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College (Emory, Virginia) / Chandler (Centenary University, Hackettstown, New Jersey)

Reserve Champion: Hattie Bradford (Jonesborough, Tennessee) / SCAD (Savannah, Georgia) / Walter (Goucher College, Towson, Maryland)

Third: Lauren Rex (Kalamazoo, Michigan) / University of Findlay (Findlay, Ohio) / Elvis (Centenary University)

Individual Novice Equitation on the Flat

Champion: Kelsey Yin (Del Mar, California) / University of Arizona  (Tempe, Arizona) / Otto (St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York)

Reserve Champion: Rory Woods / Marist College (Poughkeepsie, New York) / Walter (Goucher College)

Third: Emily Pecsok (Cornwall, Vermont) / Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) / Tanner (Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, Emory, Virginia)

Individual Open Equitation on the Flat

Champion: Alexander Alston (Wellington, Florida) / SCAD / Frankie (Skidmore College, Sherborn, Massachusetts)

Reserve Champion: Harper Sanford/ Skidmore College (Sherborn, Massachusetts) / Crosby (Skidmore College)

Third: Elizabeth Nevins (Boston, Massachusetts) / Boston University  / Nagini (St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York)

Team Intermediate Equitation on the Flat

Champion: Sydney Jasny (Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts) / Skidmore College / Chandler (Centenary University)

Reserve Champion: Emmalyn Mirarchi (Harvard, Massachusetts) / Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Massachusetts) / Crosby (Skidmore College)

Third: Mia Sisson (Warren, Rhode Island) / Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College / Elvis (Centenary University)

2023 IHSA National Championship Horse Show - Thursday Flat Champions - updated
IHSA National Championship competition resumes in the Alltech Arena Friday morning at 8 a.m. Highlights include the Hunter Seat High-Point Rider, presenting the Cacchione Cup and the kick-off of the Western divisions. The USHJA will hold a Career Fair from 1-4 on the mezzanine.