Courtesy of Marion Lee of Horse Times
SCAD (The Savannah College of Art and Design) riders bested 10 other college teams to win both the National and Novice titles at the 40th ANRC National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship. SCAD hosted the competition at their Ronald C. Waranch Equestrian Center outside Savannah, Georgia, on April 19 - 23, 2017. Riders from four Virginia schools – Averett College, Emory & Henry College, Lynchburg College, and Sweet Briar College – competed and scored well. The sole Maryland competitor, Goucher College, won the Novice Reserve Team Championship. First-year Goucher rider Rena DiPaula, from Westminster, Maryland, who placed third overall in the Novice Division, said "It was truly an honor to go to ANRC (Nationals) as a freshman. The show ran so smoothly and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. Overall, the experience was absolutely incredible." Maryland rider Cary Hundley competed on Goucher's National team on her horse Best Intentions, placing ninth individually.
The ANRC (American National Riding Committee) National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship promotes the American Forward Riding System of cooperation between horse and rider. The horse should move forward freely with connected movement. The competition is judged on equitation in a three-phase mounted competition, preceded by a written test. On the first day, competitors complete a program ride that includes counter canter, turn on the haunches, extended trot, and two jumps. They are then challenged by an outdoor derby-style course in a field consisting of 12 natural jumps. On the final day they execute a USEF Medal-type hunter seat equitation course. Riders compete in teams of two or three and ride the same horse throughout the competition. The best two scores in each phase are used to determine the overall team standings. Novice Division fences are at 2'6", and in the National Division at 3'.
Two days of schooling are allowed prior to the competition, with riders from each college assigned practice time with their coaches in each of the locations. Excellent weather prevailed throughout the weekend in a beautiful setting of green fields and white fences. Judges for the riding phases were Kim Dorfman of Aiken, South Carolina, and William Sparks of New Orleans, Louisiana.
This year, ANRC launched a new type of competition for middle and high school students: the ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge. It is a team competition for schools and organizations with students in grades six through 12, the format based on ANRC's National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship. Students are mounted on their own horse or pony, or a horse or pony provided by their school or organization. American Conference teams are composed of students attending a private or independent member school. National Conference teams are for students from a public school or multiple schools (or home-schooled students) representing a member organization. Teams compete in either a Novice Division (jumps at 2'3" – 2'6") or an Open Division (jumps at 2'9" – 3'). Teams are composed of either two or three students. Each school or barn may have multiple "teams."
The new program was developed to reach riders at an earlier age, and to provide trainers with another way to engage their students in learning, setting goals, and putting knowledge into practice. Coaches are encouraged to incorporate forward riding theory and sound stable management practices to improve the rider's horsemanship skills and also prepare them for collegiate riding programs and competitions. Country Hill Farm coach Marsha Herbert said of the competitions, "I coached Varsity Athletics for years, and it encouraged a team concept. ANRC gave my riders the same opportunity to enjoy. It was a breath of fresh air! "
Successful local competitions have been held in the 2016-2017 season at Goucher College, Sweet Briar College, Madeira School, Country Hill Farm, and St. Timothy's School. Teams that participated in each conference were invited to compete in the first annual ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge National Championship held on May 19 – 21, 2017, at Sweet Briar College.