The University's Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) team has had quite a year. The team finished first in its region and is sending three individual riders to the National Championship, which will be held April 12 and April 13. Did we mention they're hosting the event here for the first time in the history of the department? What a great way to cap off an already successful season! The competition will be held at the Olde Dominion Agriculture Complex in Chatham and is free and open to the public. Food will be available on the grounds and vendors will be selling their wares.
"It is a huge honor for us to be selected," said Ginger Henderson, the team's coach and associate professor of equestrian studies. "It has been fantastic for the department and the team. This is a big deal for the Danville/Pittsylvania County area.
"The whole department has pulled together to put this on. It has been so exciting, so uplifting, to see how much support these kids have been getting from the University. It's been quite a bonding experience for all of us."
The department put in a bid to host the National Competition two years ago and found out last spring they would be hosting the event this year. The country is divided into regions, and each region sends the regional champion team as well as its High Point Champion at each level to compete on individual day. All total, there will be at least 25 different schools and nearly 100 competitors competing over the two-day competition.
As regional champions, Averett's team will represent its region. In addition, three of its riders grabbed three of the four individual competition lots. The individual competing at First Level is senior Shannon Stone, at Upper Training is sophomore Amanda Arnold, at Lower Training is senior Catherine Doane, also at Upper Training is senior Lindsey Baker, who won a wild card slot. The team is comprised of Stone, Arnold, Doane and sophomore Sydney Owen.
A lot of hard work and planning goes into preparing for an event of this magnitude, Henderson said. The school is responsible for supplying the 30-40 dressage horses needed for the competition. They must also handle advertising, programs, a banquet, an educational component and provide a team bonding event on Friday before the competition.
A portion of the above mentioned expenses, including rental of the facility, have been covered thanks to a $10,000 Make it Happen grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.