Club SportsSports

Equestrian team sends riders to Zone Championship, Western Semis

 When Oregon Equestrian rider Hannah Gray qualified for nationals in the Open Horsemanship category last week, the sophomore was surprised to say the least.

“Crazy, because this is actually my first year ever doing any horsemanship.”

Not only was it was her first year ever doing horsemanship, this year was also sophomore Gray’s first on the team.

“I’d mostly just done reining and rodeo events before joining the team,” Gray said.

Now, at the end of the season, Oregon Equestrian is sending Gray to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Western semi-finals in Ohio and her teammate Chiara Ciacci to the Zone Championship.

“Qualifying for semi-finals was so exciting,” Gray said, although her main to goal is to qualify for the IHSA Nationals.

“That would a huge accomplishment for me,” Gray said. “My goal is to compete at Nationals at least once over the next few years of riding for the team.”

Courtney Horan, team president, was especially pleased with the team’s performance this year. Even though the team as a whole didn’t qualify for Nationals, the Western team secured second place and the Hunt Seat team came in fourth.

“I am so proud of how well we did this season, and I would have to say that the competition this year was the strongest it has ever been,”  Horan said.

Gray and Ciacci are the last competitors still in the race for Nationals for the Oregon team, and for that, Gray shares the glory with her horses Jessie and Pardy.

Jessie is Gray’s barrel mare, while Pardy is her reining gelding. Pardy is seven years old and Gray describes him as “the most talented horse” she has even owned.

“He is so much fun to ride. We had a couple very successful show years,” Gray said.  “Some of my proudest accomplishments and winnings were on this little guy.

After college, Gray hopes to continue to ride, but her professional goals are to work for a professional sports team as a sports marketer.

IHSA Nationals are May 5-8 this year in Lexington, Kentucky.

Follow Madison Layton on Twitter @MadisonLayton01

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Madison Layton

Madison Layton