Back on Track Western High-Point Rider Competition Began with the Reining Phase

IHSA - 2023 Nationals - High Point Reining B - Madeleine Nielsen crop
Ashton Knerr from University of Findlay on Boone from Murray State University in the Back on Track Western High-Point Rider Reining Section B.
Photo by Madeleine Nielsen

Back on Track Western High-Point Rider competition began with the reining phase, split into two sections, with twenty riders vying for the national championship title. Cheers filled the arena as riders galloped, spun and slid to impress the judges' panel of Holly Hover (Cave Creek, Arizona) and Debra Jones-Wright (Abbeville, South Carolina). On Sunday, high-point riders will showcase precision and control in the horsemanship phase to determine the 2023 winner.
Western team competition began with the Team Beginner Horsemanship class, presented by NSBA. Twelve riders and their mounts rode at the walk and jog each way of the ring before lining up to execute their pattern.
Sadio Barnes (Miami, Florida) of Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) rode to the national championship title on the bay gelding Flint from Midway University (Midway, Kentucky). Berry College (Berry, Georgia) freshman Axa Stevens on Wilmington College's (Wilmington, Ohio) Jet took the reserve championship honors. Third place was awarded to John Stafford (Martin, Kentucky) from Midway University aboard Fish from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU/Murfreesboro, Tennessee).

Next in the Alltech Arena was Team Level II Horsemanship, presented by NSBA. These more experienced riders walk, jog and lope and perform a more detailed pattern. The national championship went to the University of Findlay's (Findlay, Ohio) Kaitlyn Howe and Georgie from St. Andrews University (Laurinburg, North Carolina). Chase Summerville (Albany, Pennsylvania) from Midway University and the Albion College (Albion, Michigan)-provided mount, Millie, took home the reserve championship. Third-place finisher Jennica Dannehl (Bertrand, Nebraska), a sophomore at West Texas A&M (Canyon, Texas), rode Boomer from SUNY Oswego (Oswego, New York).

Western team competition continued with Team Rookie Horsemanship, presented by NSBA. Twelve riders rode for the national championship title. The judges awarded the high score to James Shrock (Muncie, Indiana) from the University of Findlay on Slick from MTSU. Luke Rogers (Dillon, South Carolina), a freshman from St. Andrews University, rode to the reserve championship with Black Hawk College's (Galva, Illinois) mount, Hooker. Third-place honors went to Midway University's Katerin Getty (Dayton, Pennsylvania) and Jellybean from Miami University of Ohio (Oxford, Ohio).

The day ended with the AQHA Individual Level II Horsemanship. Carli Kearns (Manchester, Michigan) from Albion College earned the top score and the national championship aboard Ranger, provided by Miami University of Ohio. The reserve call went to the University of Findlay's Faith Borbonus (Greensburg, Pennsylvania) and Smokey from Mississippi State (Starkville, Mississippi). Rounding out the top three is Jordan Rydl (Boone, Iowa) from Black Hawk College and the MTSU-provided mount, Eddie.
The final day IHSA National Championship competition resumes in the Alltech Arena Sunday at 8 a.m. Highlights include the conclusion of the Back on Track Western High-Point Rider classes, NRHA Team Ranch Riding, presented by NSBA, and the Western team awards presentation.