Four talented young reiners will represent that Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Collegiate Reining Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The following riders will compete against the top young reiners in the country on Friday, June 29, at the NRHA Derby: Morgan Knerr, Danielle Paulson, Kendall Woellmer and Travis Fortune. The class starts at 1:30 p.m.
Riders in the competition compete on horses donated by their owners for the event. It is a catch-ride, with competitors having precious little time to get to know the horse before they ride into the arena.
Morgan Knerr, the reigning IHSA 2018 NRHA Individual Open Reining champion, is a freshman at the University of Findlay studying pharmacy. From Plain City, Ohio, her parents are actively involved in reining and she has grown up in the sport. Before joining the University of Findlay, Knerr rode at Autumn Rose with Ollie and Debbie Griffiths. She has held multiple positions as an NRHyA officer, including president in 2017, vice president in 2016 and secretary in 2015.
“Showing in the Collegiate catch-ride is a great opportunity,” Knerr said. “I’m really excited because it will be a completely different experience. I’m really looking forward to it!”
Danielle Paulson is from Rochester, Minnesota, and is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She qualified for IHSA Nationals for the first time this year and earned the 2018 IHSA Nationals AQHA Team Reining Open Reining championship and was third in 2018 NRHA Individual Open Reining. Paulson has shown American Quarter Horses for 10 years, this is her first year competing in reining. She credits her coach, Janie Huot for giving her a leg up in the sport.
“I am so excited, it’s such a blessing to compete at this huge event,” Paulson said. “(Competing in) IHSA is the only time I’ve reined in my life. I hope to ride my best on some amazing horses that they’re providing for us.”
Travis Fortune is from Booneville, Indiana, and studies at Murray State University. Fortune finished second in the NRHA Open Reining at Western Semi-Finals and fourth the 2018 IHSA Nationals.
“I am really excited about competing at the Derby,” he said “For me, it’s the fact that I made it there. The first horse show that I reined at was in October for IHSA. To go to Nationals and be fourth and qualify for the Derby for the Collegiate Championship is just really awesome.”
Kendall Woellmer is a sophomore from Sedona, Arizona, and attends West Texas A&M University where she is majoring in agriculture communications and minoring in English. The talented rider competes in both Western and hunter seat. Woellmer earned the 2018 IHSA Sportsmanship Award and the 2018 IHSA Versatility Rider Award at the IHSA Nationals. Along with top placings in the hunt-seat divisions, Woellmer finished third in the AQHA High Point Western Rider fifth in NRHA Individual Open Reining.
“I am very honored to compete against some of the best collegiate riders in the nation,” Woellmer said.
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