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Pictured, from left, are Katie Reed, Stephanie Bias, Kaylee Tilley, Grace Hill and Savannah Carr.

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Grace Hill, an Ohio University Southern Equestrian Team member, participates in a riding skills fundraiser on Oct. 31. Monies raised by the event were used travel to the WDAA World Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Southern Campus Equestrian Team wins national grant, competes in international competition

PEDRO, Ohio – Early Wednesday morning, five members of the Ohio University Southern Equestrian Team began their 13-hour trek to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to compete in the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) World Championships Nov. 6-8. Students Katie Reed, Stephanie Bias, Kaylee Tilley, Grace Hill and Savannah Carr represented the Southern Campus at the 2015 competition. 

Traveling and participating in both national and international shows can be a great learning experience for students, and these opportunities are great building blocks for their future careers in the equine industry. 

Tilley, who attended the WDAA World Championships last year, said that she met some very influential individuals. “This is a great networking opportunity for us. We’re able to get to know people who are at the top of our profession.” 

Traveling to competitions, especially ones this far away, can be very expensive. Not only is there the travel, room and board for students and staff, but also for their horses. The Equestrian Team set its goal and began fundraising activities. Hours of work, donations, silent auctions, bake sales, events and dinners raised much of their monetary goal; however, it was the $1,500 USEF Youth Sportsmanship Grant provided to WDAA to support participation by high school and collegiate equestrian groups that allowed them to meet their goal of $7,000.

In addition to their academic standings, each team member had to send recommendations about their sportsmanship, professionalism and leadership abilities as well as a one-page plan describing their future anticipated contribution to the horse industry and how participating in the WDAA World Championship would improve their leadership skills. 

Hill said that the grant was a great honor for the team. “We worked very hard to be considered. Each of us had to contact teachers, family and former bosses and ask them to speak about our various skills and abilities — but it was well worth it. We’re so excited that we were selected.”

Bradie Chapman, lecturer and assistant coordinator of the Ohio Horse Park Center for Therapeutic Riding, explained that this is the second year in a row that Ohio University Southern students were invited to participate. Thus far, Ohio University Southern has been the only university group to compete. “This is a huge honor for us to be asked to step into such an international arena,” Chapman said. 

As winners of the grant, the Ohio University Southern team will work with WDAA to create a video blog that will be used on social media to promote the sport of Western Dressage. The team has also been featured in an article for the WDAA newsletter and website.