February 27, 2008

Currently ranked first in its region, University of Kentucky’s Equestrian Team will host its second annual hunt seat horse show March 1-2 at Frankfort’s Lakeside Arena. Classes begin around 9 a.m. each day.

UK will compete to hold its top rank in the region during the last regular intercollegiate horse show of the season. If UK maintains its status as high point team, it will automatically earn a trip to nationals May 8-11 in Los Angeles.

Not only is UK the top team in the region going into this show, UK Open rider Callie Schott of Versailles is leading the region on an individual basis for title of high point rider. If Schott captures the high point rider title this weekend, she will compete at nationals against other high point riders from each Intercollegiate Horse Show Association region represented in the United States. Competition among the top individual riders is stiff as competitors vie for the prestigious U.S. Equestrian Federation Cacchione Cup. Schott is a familiar face at this level -- last year she placed second at nationals. This year she hopes to take home the top honor.

Show organizers are expecting nearly 300 entries this weekend. With this many competitors expected UK has worked hard to ensure that it has enough horses for the duration of the show. Currently, it predicts 40 horses will be used, with most of those being generously provided by horse professionals in the area and from Robert Murphy Stables where the team trains. Having enough horses is vital. During a typical horse show one rider might ride as many as four different horses and one horse could carry around as many as 10 different riders.

“People at Robert Murphy Stables and other contacts are very understanding of UK’s situation. They’re very generous in pulling together resources to have enough horses in the end,” said UK hunt seat team coach Michelle Zimmer.

“The team is really pulling together to help each other out and make this show run even more smoothly than last year,” said team president Kathleen Reed. “The preparations are rigorous, but I know that we can follow through on organizing and executing another successful show this year.”

Teams competing against UK at this show will include the University of Louisville, Midway College, University of Cincinnati, Morehead State University and Xavier University.

IHSA competitions are unique from the horse shows most people are familiar with. During IHSA shows, a rider draws an unfamiliar horse’s name randomly, and is then judged on his or her ability to ride that horse in equitation and/or jumping classes. There is no warm-up time. This framework was designed to provide a level playing field for college riders and gives students the opportunity to compete in horse shows without having to own and care for their own horse.

Fundraising required for shows like this is vital and time consuming for team members. The team relies heavily on sponsors, with the largest sponsor for this show being Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Other sponsors include UK’s Equine Initiative, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and Kentucky Equine Education Project. In order to raise enough money to compete, team members also volunteer throughout the year at Lakeside Arena, Kentucky Horse Park, Rolex Three Day Event and for breed associations that need help with their horse shows or events.

This will be the last show of the regular season. Qualified riders will next move on to regional, super zone and national competitions. The regional competition for both hunt seat and western divisions will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at Morehead State University.

For more information regarding this horse show, becoming a sponsor or joining the team, please contact UK Equestrian Team president Kathleen Reed at kathleen.reed@uky.edu or 502-544-9990 or team advisor Bob Coleman at rcoleman@uky.edu or 859-257-2226.

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