Michael Andrade Claims IHSA National Championship Title in Open Equitation Over Fences

The 2018 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) kicked off their National Championship at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The first class of the day was Open Equitation Over Fences, sponsored by Collegiate, Windham Hill, LLC and Athletic Equestrian League. Centenary University junior, Michael Andrade earned the national championship aboard Skidmore College’s Clay. Andrade was in second place at the end of the first round and the judges asked the top-four riders to return for a challenging test. They were asked to counter canter two jumps and lengthen the stride to the last jump.

“He’s a stylish rider and the horse is a lovely horse,” said Heather Clark, who coaches the Centenary University team along with Michael Dowling.

“He did a beautiful job of pulling off the counter canter,” Dowling said. “He also demonstrated a true lengthening of stride. He never got out of the tack—it wasn’t a hand gallop. He read the horse well and improved. I think that is really important in intercollegiate riding. We’re grateful for the very nice horse provided by Skidmore.”

“It’s awesome, it means a lot,” said Andrade, who won both the Open Flat in both Team and Individual in 2017. “I have to thank Heather Clark and Michael Dowling for all they do. I was told he only landed on the left lead so going into the first round I sank into the tack a bit more and got used to him and into the work off. I knew his stride and he did everything for me. I’m so happy for that. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”

Andrade hopes to ride professionally after school.

“The bending lines in the first round were a test,” said reserve champion Halle Kutsche from Kansas State University. “I drew Sun Bear who is the greatest horse ever. He was super adjustable and listened to everything I asked.”

Kutsche is a senior studying mechanical engineering and the sole representative of Kansas State University at IHSA Nationals. She participated in a cooperative educational program with Anheuser-Busch and will return to the company for an internship this summer.



The IHSA includes teams beyond the U.S. border into Canada and five riders made it to Nationals in 2018.

Mark Struthers and Lauren Hunkin are coaches from Ottawa University and they brought two Individual riders that qualified, Rebecca Bedard and Caroline Gaudette. “This is our first time at Nationals and we’re very excited,” Struthers said.

Bedard is a second-year student originally from Quebec. She took third in the Individual Novice Over Fences.

“It’s a great experience,” Bedard said. “The horse I drew was absolutely amazing. Everything is so professional—the venue, they have such incredible prizes and great sponsors and the vendors, too. I’m impressed!”

The University of Ottawa has 24 members that compete in the IHSA and in their area hunter/jumper shows. “The quality of this horse show is comparable to showing in the “A” circuit,” Struthers said. “We were very impressed with the quality of the horses.”

Natalie Nahirney is a neuroscience major from Vancouver and a senior at the University of British Columbia. This is Nahirney’s third year attending Nationals and took the fourth-place prize in Individual Open Equitation on the Flat. Nahirney, along with Claire Anderson, who is at Nationals in Individual Open Fences and the USEF/Cacchione Cup, serve as captains of their 15-person team. They have partnered with JustWorld International, a nonprofit organization that helps children with basic needs and education in third-world countries. The team will support the organization with fundraisers and serve as ambassadors.

“IHSA has been an opportunity to use all that I’ve learned in the horse world in previous years,” Nahirney said. “It has been a fabulous way to enjoy horses in university when I thought I wouldn’t be competing. I love all the people we have met along the way. It has brought the greatest sense of community.”

Other champions from day one include: