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NMSU Stock Seat Team To Ride at Zone 7 Championships This Weekend

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University's two-time national champion equestrian team will be back in the saddle Saturday, hosting the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's Zone 7 Championships at the campus Equine Educational Center.



New Mexico State University's two-time national champion equestrian team will be among 12 featured universities competing April 5 in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 7 Championships in Las Cruces. Junior Megan Duff, NMSU's high-point stock seat rider for the entire region this season, leads the list of riders scheduled to compete. (04/02/2003) (NMSU New Mexico State University's two-time national champion equestrian team will be among 12 featured universities competing April 5 in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 7 Championships in Las Cruces. Junior Megan Duff, NMSU's high-point stock seat rider for the entire region this season, leads the list of riders scheduled to compete. (04/02/2003) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

NMSU's stock seat team, which finished the season as Region 1 reserve champion, will ride off against the Region 2 reserve champion West Texas A&M University during the daylong competition. The winning team will advance to IHSA National Championships May 1-4 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"Our team has been building strength all season," said Deborah Rosencrans, NMSU stock seat coach. "We've got home court advantage on our side, and I'm hoping that we can finish strong."

NMSU's stock seat squad has been sensational since joining the 300-plus school Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which includes more than 6,000 riders across the nation. NMSU won the national championship in 1995 and 1998, and was second in 1997. In 1999, the stock seat team was the defending champion and holder of the American Quarter Horse Association Trophy.

More than 12 equestrian teams from across the nation, representing such riding powerhouses as Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University and Colorado State University, will compete in Las Cruces. The hunt seat or English riding portion of the program runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The stock seat or Western program is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

To evaluate a rider's skills in the Western competition, each participant is given a horse selected in a random drawing. The judges rate the rider's ability to execute the required maneuvers with the correct skills for that specific class.

"Judges are looking for those riding skills that get the horse to perform well," Rosencrans said. "It takes a lot of sensitivity."

Junior Megan Duff, NMSU's high-point stock seat rider for the entire region this season, leads the list of NMSU riders. The Las Cruces native will compete in the open Western horsemanship class. She has already been selected to represent NMSU at nationals in the American Quarter Horse Association high-point rider class.

Reserve regional champion in open Western horsemanship Rachel Rosencrans will ride in open reining. The 22-year-old senior from Las Cruces will also compete in individual open Western horsemanship.

"Megan and Rachel, our open riders, have a lot of experience going into this championship," Rosencrans said. "They're used to competing under pressure."

Erin Frye, a senior from Los Alamos, is regional champion in advanced Western horsemanship and will compete in that class. Kristi Gottsponer, regional champion in alumni Western horsemanship and reserve regional champion in alumni reining, will ride in both classes.
She will also compete in alumni hunt seat over fences and alumni hunt seat flat.

Freshman Christina Gonzales, a Taos native, will compete in the advanced horsemanship class, while freshman and Las Cruces native Elizabeth Knight will ride in intermediate horsemanship. Freshman Tessa Cathey from Las Cruces will compete in the beginning horsemanship class.

Other Aggies riding in the zone championships are hunt seat qualifiers Lauren Kanof, regional champion in the intermediate over fences class; and RaeLynn Dunlap, third in walk/trot/canter.