IHSA Nationals Rider Spotlight: Ashley Mann
An alumnus of Southeast Missouri State University.
The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, or IHSA, offers college student-equestrians a way to compete without having to own their own horse. With both western and hunt seat divisions, the IHSA has been developing young talent for 50 years now by offering friendly college versus college competition. With the IHSA National Finals quickly approaching, we wanted to spotlight just a few of the riders who will be making their way to the Kentucky Horse Park in May.
Name: Ashley Mann
Year Graduated: 2016
University Name: Southeast Missouri State University
Area of Study: Biology
Years in IHSA: 3 as an undergrad, 1 as an Alumni
Nationals Division: Alumni Over Fences
Aside from trail riding, Ashley Mann had no formal training in the saddle. However, after seeing an advertisement on campus about the Redhawks Equestrian Team, she decided to pop out to Remley Equestrian Center and check out what the team was all about. She quickly became hooked and joined the team as a walk/trot competitor. Riding English and focusing on equitation was a whole new world for Ashley, but she became passionate about the experience and continues to grow as a rider today at the same barn where she got her start.
Of course, as an alumnus, Ashley balances quite a hectic schedule on top of her riding goals. On top of a full-time job, she also works at Remley Equestrian Center which helps her find additional time in the saddle. There, she is able to ride a variety of horses on a day to day basis after she finishes up with her work around the barn. Riding multiple different horses in one week is definitely excellent preparation for any IHSA show, especially Nationals.
When asked about how IHSA has impacted her life, Ashley shared with us that without IHSA and the Redhawks Equestrian Team she feels she probably would have never had the courage to start riding. She recollected on her first show, which she claims is her favorite IHSA memory, and shared this heartwarming moment with us: “I had never shown before and I was so nervous. I drew a lovely pony named Rosebud and I don’t think I breathed through the whole class. I was fairly new to the team and I didn’t know a lot of the girls, but when they called our class placings the team-girls came up, gave me a hug and congratulated me on my win. That was a defining moment in feeling like I was part of a team.”
Ashley tries to encourage every horse lover to consider joining their collegiate IHSA team. “It made it accessible for me as someone who has never been around horses or who didn’t know how to ride to have that opportunity to learn,” she says. Not only did it define her college experience, but it also helped her realize that hard work can truly make your goals a reality. Her time and dedication to the IHSA is just proof that you don’t have to have the fanciest horse or the deepest pockets to be successful in equestrian competitions. She emphasizes that IHSA makes this sport fair and equal to all.
The Horse Nation family wishes Ashley and all of the other qualified riders the best of luck at IHSA Nationals at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Drop on by May 4-7th to watch some of the countries young talent show off their years of hard work on horses they have never sat on before. A true test of any rider’s abilities, IHSA Nationals offers both western and hunt seat competitors at the top of their game a place to compete without owning their own horse.
If you are interested in more information on the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, check out the website and follow on Facebook. And don’t forget to keep reading Horse Nation for more exclusive rider profiles for those who have qualified for IHSA Nationals!
Are you a college rider, college bound in the fall or searching for the perfect equestrian school? Network with other students at our new College Equestrian message forum!
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