University equestrian team members head to National Championships in Pennsylvania

Vivian Hodges  
Sports Editor

Earlier this month, the University’s Equestrian team made their way to Ronald C. Waranch Equestrian Center in Savannah, Georgia to participate in the 2022 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Zone 5 finals, hosted by The Savannah College of Art and Design. Winning region earlier this semester and taking home fourth place in the tournament, the IHSA team and individuals have had a victorious season and plan to continue as two riders head to the National Championship in early May. 

On Saturday of the tournament, two riders, Gigi Aiken (‘23) and Liza Shoaf (‘23), were named reserve champions, both coming in second place in their respective competitions, qualifying for Nationals. The tournament will take place May 5 to 8 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. At the event, Aiken will be competing in the Individual Open Equitation on the Flat as Shoaf competes in the Individual Open Equitation over Fences. In her seventh season with the University’s program, Director of Equestrian Karine Gordy is very proud of the two competitors stating, “They have just been phenomenal. They have worked really hard, and they both deserve this. They were both on the IHSA team and the NCEA team and have been anchors on those two teams. I’m just glad I have them for one more year.” 

Along with the IHSA team, the program has also recently joined the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA). After just being added into the organization this past school year, the NCEA team has already had great success in the arena, competing in the National Championship in Ocala, Florida for the first time. The team made it all the way to the semi-finals but lost to Lynchburg College 6-2 at the World Equestrian Center, ending their regular season. Although their first season has come to an end, Gordy could not be prouder of the team and their success in each event. “I’m incredibly proud of them,” Gordy states, “We have embraced this uncertainty of this new format, and have just been so successful. We didn’t recruit for the NCEA team, so I think the fact that riders were brought from the IHSA team and the eventing team to create this NCEA team in its first season and we did so well, really paints a picture of the level of horsemen, not just riders but actually horsemen that we have on this team.”