North Central Texas College’s equestrian program is quickly proving they can compete against just about anyone in the nation. This week, two NCTC riders will take their skills to the biggest collegiate competition of them all.
Kodi Anderson and Katlyn Kuhatschek have both qualified for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships in Harrisburg, Pa.
The event will be held May 1-4 with riders from both two and four-year schools competing.
For Anderson, it will be her second-straight year to make the trip to Nationals. But this year, she will be competing in both Individual Reining and Individual Open Horsemanship. She finished fifth in the nation in Open Horsemanship in 2013.
“Last year I only qualified for horsemanship, but this year I qualified in both reining and horsemanship,” she said. “Reining is where you run down and do big sliding stops and you do spins really fast in each direction. That’s more of a challenging one because the horses you draw are sometimes a little bit crazy. Sometimes you just get on and hope you stay on. The horsemanship is a little bit more relaxed and you just sit there and do a pretty little pattern.”
She says she expects to be less nervous this time around since she has experience on such a big stage.
“There are four-year universities that we compete against and it’s kind of like little NCTC against all these big schools,” she said. “But I just told myself that we’ve already proved that we can do it so we might as well go in there and show that we can kick all their butts.”
For Kuhatschek, this will be her first trip to Nationals, although she has recent experience in a stressful competition. After finishing second in Intermediate Fences at a regional competition, she had to travel to Wisconsin to compete in the Semifinals just to earn a spot in the IHSA Nationals.
In doing so, she became the first NCTC English team rider to qualify for Nationals in program history.
“It’s a dream come true I guess you could say,” she said. “I know it’s different than (National Collegiate Equestrian Association) where they get to warm up their horses for at least two minutes before they go in the ring. We just get to watch our horses warm up and that’s it. We get on them and can’t touch the reins until we step in the arena. It’s basically you get what you draw. You can get a really hard horse and I’ve had several of those draws.”
NCTC equestrian coach Bill Kaven is proud to have two riders qualify for Nationals and says that both have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point.
“The hours and time that goes into being an equestrian are more than just being physically fit and being in shape,” he said. “It’s also the thing of refining your timing with the horse. In these events, because you don’t know what horse you are going to draw, that’s a very difficult thing to prepare yourself for mentally. So the mental preparation is probably as difficult as anything because the riders only get to evaluate the horses watching someone else warm them up. So they are having to mentally prepare themselves for any horse that is being warmed up that they could possibly draw, because they won’t know until minutes before they actually get on which horse they actually draw. So the mental preparation is extremely difficult because you don’t know how to prepare.”
The IHSA National Championships are held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. Kuhatschek will compete on Thursday, while Anderson is scheduled to compete on Friday.