CANYON -- The reigning Western National Champion West Texas A&M equestrian will begin its title defense tomorrow as it competes in the 2014 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championship. The Lady Buffs will be competing through Sunday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
“The Lady Buff equestrian team is ready for this week at the National Championship,” said head coach Amanda Love. “The girls are riding fantastic and getting pumped up about the opportunity to defend their National Championship. I am beyond proud of their work ethic and dedication this semester. This team has perfected the process of preparation, both physically and mentally, and that is all I can ask for at this point. We appreciate all the support from the University and community as we head off this week!”
WT will be sending 12 total athletes to ride in the competition, 11 between individual and team Western events, and one in Hunt Seat.
Looking to defend its National Championship title from last season, their second overall, will be the team, consisting of six riders, in the Western discipline. Athletes competing in the team events include Cana Fitzgerald, Kimberly Newkirk, Megan Pirtle, Kinzee Shull, Julia Roberts and Marilyn Brandt.
The Lady Buffs were named Regional Champions and won their second-straight National Western Semi-Finals competition earlier this month at home at the WT Horse Center to secure their spot as a team at nationals.
“I can’t describe how much this opportunity means to me,” said Pirtle. “I feel incredibly blessed to be able to be a part of such a successful team. I’m beyond excited to compete and I can’t wait to watch my teammates be extremely successful this weekend.”
Roberts, along with Tessa Lopez, Kayla Wells, Angela Bradley, Kayla Bridgman and Rachel Foster will be competing in Western individual events.
“As we head off to nationals I am more than confident in our riders’ ability to bring home yet another national title,” Roberts noted. “We’ve practiced hard and we’re ready to compete alongside some of the best teams in the nation. I’ve been blessed to have two successful national appearances and can’t wait to finish strong for my senior year! Go Buffs!”
Last season, Roberts was crowned an individual National Champion in individual Open Horsemanship.
Reilly Millbauer topped the field in Individual Open Flat at the Hunt Seat Zone Championship in Wisconsin two weeks ago, securing her position as the lone Lady Buff competing in Hunt Seat at the National Championship this weekend.
“Our coaches have been preparing us every day, all year long for this and I think they’ve given us the best chance at success by pushing us harder and not settling for ordinary,” added Millbauer. “I’m proud to have made it this far and am ready to put all of the hard work into my ride and to watch my team bring home another National Championship!”