By US Equestrian Communications Department
Wayne, Ill. – The United States Equestrian Federation/National Collegiate Equestrian Association Junior Hunter Seat Medal Final – Central welcomed 19 aspiring collegiate riders on Saturday, September 18, with Isabelle Collister (Lake Forest, Ill.) coming out on top.
Fourteen-year-old Collister rode Doreen MH, Kirsten Collister’s 2011 Holsteiner mare, to the win. Redemption was the name of the game for Collister and “Dory,” who placed fourth in the 2020 Final. To prepare for the 2021 Final, Collister and Dory have been working on building their connection and staying in frame in the jumping phases, as well as managing competition anxiety, with trainer Tom Cerra.
“It means a lot [to win this with Dory]. She’d done so much for me and my riding career, so I was feeling pretty confident in myself and my horse. I don’t think any horse I’ve ever ridden has given me more confidence than she has,” said Collister. “I wanted to come back this year and prove to myself that I could do it, to win on a big stage. After my first round, I knew that I had done the best could possibly do and that all the hard work paid off.”
Collister credits Dory with boosting her confidence in the competition ring, as well as her experiences on her barn’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team to help prepare her for the horse swap aspect of this competition.
“You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s also really fun to get on something else that you’ve only watched go around. It’s like you get to walk around in their rider’s shoes,” said Collister. “I do get a little bit nervous but controlling my nerves is also something I’ve been working on. What really works for me is staying focused. I also know not to watch too many rounds because then I psych myself out.”
Collister is still in the early years of her high school career, but is thinking ahead to collegiate riding and academics. “Collegiate riding has been in the back of my mind for a while. If I get the opportunity to ride at college I’d absolutely take it,” said Collister. “I like the NCEA format. I like that we get to ride our own horse first and getting around the course to see how it rides. Then I like the unknown variable that’s thrown in with the horse swap. Getting on new horses is always fun for me.”