Tough Weather and Tough Riders at the “Lucky Seven” IHSA Alumni Tournament of Champions

Photo © MCGeise Photography

“Lucky 7”  the Seventh Anniversary of the Alumni Tournament of Champions (hunt seat edition) once again had a slightly crazy Mother Nature throwing some interesting weather and oddly low temps at the 100 or so riders competing to etch their names in history books.  This year the tournament took place on June 4, 2017 Briarwood Farm at Black River Farm. This was the first time since Western was added that western and hunt seat competed on different days and locations. The Western portion of the tournament will be held at Miami of Ohio University Sunday, June 17th.  

Hunt seats riders were competing in 8 various classes to become the 7th name added to the following trophy classes Adult Ammy Strong 2’3 Fences, Huntley 2’6” fences, Sandra Sayre Alumni Flat, Equicube Advanced Flat, and the Mane Jane Alumni cup. In addition, three newer classes added the third name to the Campus Equestrian Reunion Fences, Lund Saddlery Reunion Fences, and the IHSAA Future Alumni Cup.

The show started off with a pre-party / end of year awards reception.  This was a fun little meet and great reception as well as a chance to award our High Point Alumni Hunt Seat rider awards.  Alumni reps across the county submitted top points accumulated throughout the competition season for each riders top seven shows.  Riders entered to show in the 2018 Alumni Tournament had a chance to win the trophy. Six places were awarded ribbons and saddle pads sponsored by Jessie’s Creations.  The top place and overall winner out of hunt seat and western points was a second time winner Tara Matthews, last winning the trophy back in 2016.

In the Mane Jane Hunt Seat Alumni Cup the starting field of 21 riders was reduced to 6 for a final work off after combining both their over fences and flat section scores. For the final test, hunt seat judge, Donna Martin had the riders line up and perform a specially selected test.  Scores were very close in the end, but the 2018 Mane Jane Hunt Seat Alumni Cup winner ended up being Kayleigh Burke, a Virginia Tech Graduate.

Photo © MCGeise Photography

2018 showed a growing turn out for the Future Hunt Seat Alumni Cup, which is open to graduating seniors and undergrads who used up their 8 semesters of eligibility.  Much like the Mane Jane Cup, the IHSAA Future Alumni Cup combines the score of an over fences round, a flat round, and a test for the top 6 riders. This year the trophy went home to North Carolina with NC State at Greensboro grad Logan Farley.  

Ultimately 8 new Hunt Seat champions went home with huge smiles and amazing prizes from our generous sponsors.  It was heard several times throughout the day, “what amazing sponsors” we have at the tournament. Thanks to the diligence of co-founder Lena Andrews Licata every ribbon winner went home with at least one prize in addition to the ribbon.

In addition to individual classes, we did have one “team” competition.  Riders joined forces with people they may or may not have known before Saturday or Sunday.  Teams of 3 competed in the team challenge, where scores were tracked for each team member with the lowest score dropped.  Teams could add bonus points for having riders from different states and competition zones, as well as, best team name. This year Perri’s leather sponsored the class, the championship with each team member taking home a Perri’s Leather Halter went to “Two Baes and the token Chestnut Mare.  Best team name awarded an extra point by judge Donna Martin went to “Where’s the Tylenol.”

Photo © MCGeise Photography

This year’s tournament was once again honored to have many sponsors making this day special for all. Nutrena generously sponsored all the ribbons for the sixth year assuring that our winners went home with beautiful ribbons. We had several amazing class, prize, and goodie bag sponsors including Mane Jane, Huntley Equestrian, IHSA Alumni Association, Lund Saddlery, Campus Equestrian, Sandra Sayre, Equicube, Adult Ammy Strong, Back On Track, Success Equestrian, KMarie, Essex Classics, Perri’s Leather, Real Women Ride, Smartpak, KJ Creations, FarmVet, and PLS Saddles.

The Alumni Tournament of Champions is an IHSA style horse show for IHSA alumni from around the country. Riders draw horses before competing and are not able to practice on the horse before walking into the show ring. The purpose of the show is to expand opportunities for IHSA Alumni to ride in a finals type atmosphere, as many only show a few times a year with busy careers and limited funds.

More information can be found on our website, Full results can be found on, and photos can be found on

Keep an eye out for the 2019 Alumni Tournament of Champions, the date and location should be set by early fall. As always, there could be a few new surprises up our sleeves especially for Crazy number 8!