Western Divisions Kicked Off with AQHA/NRHA Individual Ranch Riding, NRHA Team Reining And AQHA Individual Horsemanship

2023-IHSA National Champioship Horse Show-Jordan Schauer-Midway-University-Benz-University of Findlay-Andrew Ryback Photography
Jordan Schauer (Midway University) guides Benz (University of Finday) over the poles during the AQHA/NRHA Individual Ranch Riding. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Midway University (Midway, Kentucky) sophomore Jordan Schauer (Centerburg, Ohio) bested the field of 12 riders to be the 2023 AQHA/NRHA Individual Ranch Riding IHSA National Champion. In only its second year of National-level competition, Ranch Riding has exploded in popularity within the IHSA.

Aboard the chestnut gelding, Benz, from the University of Findlay, Schauer executed the pattern that included an extended trot, spin, lead change and walk poles to take home the championship.

“Walking in, he was kind of looking around,” Schauer said. “That's why the pattern starts out with a walk and a trot; it’s easing them into it. Coming around that extended trot, I knew he was locked in there with me. That spin was a little unexpected, but we handled it okay and got through it. After that everything was just a lot better. Everything was straight. He was right there with me and it went how I wanted it to.”

Taking home the reserve championship was Rachel Lexon (Bellefonte, Pennsylvania) from Penn State University (University Park) aboard Penny, a chestnut mare from Middle Tennessee State University. Rounding out the top three was Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana) sophomore Megan Manlief (Westport, Indiana) and Honey, a palomino mare from the University of Findlay (Findlay, Ohio).

Cheers echoed through the Alltech Arena during the NRHA Team Reining class. Twelve riders executed the pattern which began with four 360-degree spins in each direction, circles with lead changes, sliding stops with roll backs and ending with a sliding stop and backing.

When the cheers quieted and the dust settled, Black Hawk College (Moline, Illinois) sophomore Autumn Cary (Syracuse, Nebraska) with Mississippi State’s chestnut mare, Wishbone, earned the national championship honors.

2023 IHSA National Championship Horse Show - Autumn Cary - Black Hawk College - Wishbone - Mississippi State - NRHA Team Reining - Andrew Ryback Photography
2022 Autumn Cary (Black Hawk College) and Wishbone (Mississippi State) in the NRHA Team Reining class. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography


Ohio State University’s (Columbus, Ohio) Nigel Lancaster (Hilliard Ohio) and J.R provided by Mal McGuire rode to the reserve championship. Rounding out the top three was Jordan Brechbill (Schwenksville, Pennsylvania) a senior from the University of Findlay aboard Findlay’s own mount, Andy.

After showcasing the walk, jog and lope, the 12 competitors in the AQHA Individual Level I Horsemanship class each rode a specified pattern demonstrating control, precision and invisible aids directing their mounts.

The final class of the day was the AQHA Individual Open Horsemanship. Like the Level I class, the 12 more experienced riders displayed their position at each gait before riding a more difficult pattern.

The 2023 national championship title honors went to Sarah Beth Felker (Moncks Corner, South Carolina), a senior at St. Andrews University aboard Sheldon from Black Hawk College. The reserve call went to University of Findlay’s Ashton Knerr (Plain City, Ohio) on the Middle Tennessee State (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) mount, Fish. Lori Girrbach (Tecumseh, Michigan) from Adrian College (Adrian, Michigan) and Ranger (Miami University/Oxford, Ohio) took home third place.

IHSA National Championship competition resumes in the Alltech Arena Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Highlights include the conclusion of the Hunter Seat High-Point Rider, presenting the Cacchione Cup, and the Back on Track Western High-Point Rider classes.