After competing in the zone finals, Kristen Bailey has qualified to compete in the national championship of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association May 1 in Harrisburg, Pa.
Bailey, a senior and co-president of the University of Richmond Equestrian Team, said she was surprised she had made it so far as to qualify for the national championship. This was her first year qualifying for and participating in the regional competition, which preceded the zone finals competition. In Bailey's time at the university, no other students have qualified for the national competition, she said.
In preparation for the national championship, Bailey has been riding a lot, said coach Jessica Straus. Straus has had a judge come out to watch Bailey practice because the extra set of eyes can catch errors that Straus might miss. Everything that can be done to help Bailey prepare is being done as Straus ultimately wants her to win, she said.
"Kristen is so good at not letting her nerves get to her and making good decisions," Straus said. "It will come down to the luck of the draw."
Similar to the zones championship, at the national level, horses are brought in from all over the country, and the riders draw for the horse they will compete with. Bailey's division of novice over fences will compete early in the morning, and she will be competing with the top two riders who have progressed from the zone finals competitions from each of the eight zones of the IHSA.
Though the national competition takes place during the university's week of final exams, Bailey said she would not have to rearrange much of her schedule, which she considers lucky.
Following graduation in May, Bailey will be working in management consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Manhattan, N.Y. She is from New Jersey and would have access to ride horses at the barn she practiced at growing up, but she does not know what her schedule may allow, she said.
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