Painesville, Ohio — November 14, 2017 — After three years of competing at the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, Kiersten Pratt returned to claim the overall gold medal at the 2017 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, presented by The Plaid Horse and hosted at the Lake Erie College George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center, November 10-12 in Painesville, Ohio.
Pratt, 19, of Arlington, Illinois, who earned a team gold medal in 2015 as part of the U.S. Pony Club team and the individual bronze medal last year, also received the High Score Written Exam Award for the second year in a row.
“It feels pretty incredible,” said Pratt after receiving the gold. “All the studying hours…it is nice to be recognized for all of the hours you put in; to finally win it is pretty amazing.”
Joining Pratt on the podium this year was Toni Anderson, 17, of Alameda, California, who earned the overall silver medal and the High Score Horsemanship/Identification Exam Award, and Elizabeth Woznica, 21, of East Berlin, Connecticut, who took home overall bronze medal and the High Score Practicum Award.
“It’s nice to come [to HQC Nationals] and everyone around you is so excited to learn and you just learn so much cool stuff, and you get to show off a little,” said Anderson of the weekend. “It’s really a lot of fun.”
As part of the HQC Nationals, finalists participate in a variety of educational seminars in addition to three phases of testing. This year’s seminars included a sport psychology session with renowned equine sports psychologist and coach Daniel Stewart, an equine anatomy seminar with Lake Erie College Associate Professor of Equine Studies Laura Stockhaus, a saddle fitting seminar with certified master saddler Heather Soones-Booher, and a classroom lecture on the top 10 skin problems in horses with Dean of the Lake Erie College School of Equine Studies and Associate Professor Dr. Pamela Hess.
This year a total of 24 individuals, ranging in age from 12 to 21 who were among the highest scoring HQC participants throughout the qualifying period, went head-to-head for individual medals at HQC Nationals. Nationals participants completed three phases including a written exam, a horsemanship/identification exam, and a hands-on practicum exam, which was split into two sections, A and B, based on cumulative scores from the first two phases. Overall medals were based on cumulative scores from the written exam, the horsemanship/identification exam and Practicum A.
In addition to medals, the winners received a variety of prizes. The overall gold medalist was awarded a $5,000 scholarship to Lake Erie College, a $2,000 training and education grant provided by the USHJA Foundation, a Charles Owen helmet, a Lake Erie College saddle pad, and a special learning opportunity at Spy Coast Farm, a leading American sport horse breeding and training operation in Lexington, Kentucky. The overall silver medalist received a $3,000 scholarship to Lake Erie College, a $1,500 grant for training and education, and a Charles Owen helmet, and the overall bronze medalist received a $2,000 scholarship to Lake Erie College, a $500 grant for training and education, and a Charles Owen helmet.
After earning the bronze medal and a scholarship to Lake Erie College in 2016, Pratt transferred to Lake Erie to major in Equine Teacher Trainer in the College of Equine Studies and minor in communications.
“I really admired how they put the horse first and they really focus on horsemanship,” said Pratt of making the decision to transfer to the Lake Erie College equine program. “Yes, they focus on riding too-they want to make us the best riders we can be-but it’s all about the horse in the end and that really drew me in.”
Scholarships provided by Lake Erie College are for full-time, undergraduate degree seeking students use and are non-transferable. The scholarship amount is renewable for up to four years contingent on students maintaining good academic standing within their major.
USHJA thanks presenting sponsor The Plaid Horse for supporting the program, and Mischief Farm and It’s a Haggerty’s for providing meals during Nationals. USHJA also extends thanks to HQC Committee members Chair Terri Young, Mary Babick, Lilli Bieler Biedermann, Kirstie Dobbs, Julia Hogan, Brooke Mallin, Elaine Schott, Cricket Stone, as well as HQC Nationals volunteers Elizabeth Evans, Alix Morrison, Abby Lackey and Colleen Shea-Hackett.
• Overall Gold: Kiersten Pratt
• Overall Silver: Toni Anderson
• Overall Bronze: Elizabeth Woznica
• High Score Award-Written Exam: Kiersten Pratt
• High Score Award Horsemanship/Identification Exam: Toni Anderson
• High Score Award-Practicum A: Elizabeth Woznica
Complete coverage of HQC Nationals will be published in the January 2018 issue of USHJA In Stride magazine. For more information about the HQC program, visit www.ushja.org/HQC .
The HQC Nationals ran concurrently with the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session. The HQC and EAP are supported in part by a generous grant from the United States Equestrian Federation, as well as by individual donors through the USHJA Foundation.