In total, there are approximately 6,700 riders who are a part of the IHSA. These riders compete throughout the year to accumulate points and when a rider reaches 35 points they make it through the post season and subsequently move up to the next division which is regionals. The top two from regionals (bay area schools) then move onto zones (all west coast schools), and the top two from zones move onto nationals.
Lexie, after winning her class at zone finals had about a month to train until she left for Kentucky, she worked hard not only practicing for nationals but also to help pay for her extra practice expenses, alongside balancing her classes and homework. Since a horse property is relatively hard to come by in the Bay Area, she has to drive nearly 30 miles south every week for a one hour practice. Most of the competitive teams that she encountered from the East Coast had huge barns on their college campus, with very expensive horses given to them by former alumni and donors. Meanwhile, our equestrian team rely on random amounts that come and go as they get bought and sold, never really being able to form the horse-rider bond that is so paramount to success in this sport. Despite all this, SCU equestrian team finished their last show of the year as Reserve Champions, and Lexie Smallwood won the nationals. We are so proud of Lexie and the rest of the team!!
To read more about Lexie's journey, check out this article in The Santa Clara!