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Rider competes in IHSA Nationals

Published: 5/11/2011
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By Mary McClintock

I'm from West Bath, but am finishing my senior year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 
I've been riding for as long as I can remember, so choosing a school with an equestrian team was a must.  Growing up, I would go to a schooling show here and there or a very occasional event or dressage show with my mule, Annie, but I was by no means a part of the show world.  I was more used to trail rides and simply improving my riding with my weekly lessons. 
By the time college came around I was ready to do more.

My horse, Rosie, and I have been active members of the Dickinson College Equestrian Team for four years.  The team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). 
IHSA shows are unlike other competitions because they offer something for everyone.  There are divisions from walk/trot to open over fences which has fences up to 3’3” in height, and everything in between. 
All levels are equally important because points for individuals and teams are awarded for each division.  The IHSA evens the playing field by having competitors ride randomly assigned horses with no warm-up! 
In my opinion, this is a wonderful system because everyone has the chance to ride many different types of horses, and what better way is there to improve?  There are always of course the bad draws that you pray you don’t get, but, oh well, if you do…it’s all for fun anyway right? 
The most memorable and meaningful rides are those where you do great regardless of drawing a less than average horse! 
The IHSA is a good organization because any college student from any background can join and succeed.  
Dickinson was a perfect fit for me because the team is really fun and laid back while being increasingly competitive. 
This year my team was more successful than ever before.  Thanks to our wonderful riders and fantastic coach, Lindsay Vulich, we ended second in our region overall and beat Pennsylvania State University twice!  This was a huge deal for us because of the enormous size of the Penn State team and the fact that they win at pretty much every show. 
We even managed to get High Point Team at one of our shows.   
This year the Dickinson team had eight members qualify for ten classes for Regional Finals.  That is easily a record for the team!  At Regional Finals the top three riders of each class qualified for Zone Finals.  For Dickinson this meant four riders were able to qualify, with one, senior Kim Spackman, qualifying for two divisions!  The best part about Regional Finals was three of us qualified for the Novice Over Fences division, and all three of us qualified for Zone Finals because we came in first, second, and third! 
Kim ended up getting reserve in her Novice Flat class at Zone Finals which moved her on to National Finals in Lexington, Kentucky.  I also got reserve in Novice Over Fences and accompanied  Kim to the Bluegrass State. 

Last spring, I qualified for National Finals for the Novice Flat division and had a great time!  I ended up getting honorable mention which was slightly disappointing until I realized where I was and went on a tour of the Rolex cross country course. 
The entire experience of going to Lexington and riding at the Horse Park and in the new Coliseum was amazing and I was thrilled I get the chance to go again. 
My horse, Rosie, has been assisting me by whipping me into shape these past few months so I do as well as I possibly can. 
My coach, Lindsay, has been a huge help too, of course.  Without her I still wouldn’t have the slightest clue about all the little tips and rules there are when it comes to the hunter ring, not to mention how much I have improved as a rider under her instruction. 
After graduation, I hope to move back to Maine and continue in the dressage and eventing world with both my horse and mule.  For now though, I needed to stay focused on Kentucky.  The worst that could happen is I don’t get a ribbon but still get to wear my great hat at the Kentucky Derby, which conveniently falls on the same weekend!  Now all I need to do is pack…

Mary emailed from Lexington:
I rode yesterday and got a 77 and came in seventh place! I am so excited because I really wanted to make top ten this year. My friend Kim came in sixth yesterday in her division, so we are all really excited. What a great day! Now we get to go to the derby tomorrow! Thank you for letting me write the article.

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5/13/2011 Carrie
Bravo! Fantastic and well done--
5/13/2011 Molly Stark
Oh this sounds like soo much fun - GOOD FOR YOU!!! I hope you continue to excel and have fun at the same time. Loved reading your story.
5/27/2011 Beth Carlson
Mary deserves this. She's a beautiful rider.

"No one can teach riding so well as a horse" - CS Lewis