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WT only university to qualify Hunt Seat and Western teams to 2022 IHSA National Championship Horse Show

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 7:58 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 8:12 PM CDT
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CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - West Texas A&M Equestrian’s Western and Hunt Seat teams are jumping into action for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships.

“In the hunt seat world we’re very elegant and kind of refrained and kind of making everything look pretty and easy, but also at the same time we could go over a fence at any moment,” said Ellie Schell, a WT junior Hunt Seat rider.

WT is sending 17 total riders, seven of whom are competing in the Hunt Seat.

“We have the over fences and then we have the flat which is just kind of riding around on the rail and you get judged on your equitation and how well you ride that horse,” WT Equestrian Hunt Seat Coach Lindsey McNeil said.

The equestrian team will not be traveling to nationals with their horses. Athletes draw a name and are judged on their riding position on top of the unfamiliar horse.

“You really get to know your horse within the 10 steps you get from drawing them and getting them on into the ring,” Schell. “That’s all you get.”

One of the riders said the key to learning a horse quickly is by...

“Listening,” said Joy Hiller, a WT senior equestrian Hunt Seat rider. “That’s one thing that most people don’t think about with horses, is they get on and they think I need to figure them out. They can tell you a lot from walking. I was always told listen to what they’re telling you, listen to how they’re feeling and you’ll learn a lot more about how to handle them.”

Hiller is the only rider to have national championship experience, but that’s due to COVID-19 canceling competition the past two seasons. Schell is ready to represent the Texas Panhandle.

“We’ve put in a lot of hours and we’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears into these three years and we’ve worked hard to qualify and be there,” Schell said. “We’re just really excited to go and show that off.”

Even more special, WT is the only university sending a hunt seat and western team to nationals. The buffs are reaching this feat for the first time since 2017.

“That is amazing to me because I honestly, one thing that we’ve really tried to do this year is just unify the hunt seat and the western team,” Hiller said. “Really the biggest part of having both teams going to nationals is being able to sit there and be like our whole family is going. Not just one. All of us are.”

WT fans can watch the live stream of the 2022 IHSA National Championship Horse Show on https://www.clipmyhorse.tv/en_US/events/8639/ihsa-2022-national-championship-horse-show.

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