May 3, 2011
Lake Erie College IDA Team Wins National Championship
Barb Soukup coaches team to impressive victory
Riders from over 20 colleges and universities throughout the United States converged at the Canterbury Equestrian Show Place in Newberry, Florida to compete at the Intercollegiate Dressage Association's 9th annual National Championship.
The Lake Erie College team, under the direction of Barb Soukup, took home top honors in the highly competitive field. The LEC team includes senior Amy Ertas, junior Sarah Simmons, junior Autumn Harvey, and junior Meghan Marcinkewicz. Over 100 riders vied April 30 and May 1 as either part of a 4 member team or as individuals in each of the IDA's four divisions, Introductory, Lower Training, Upper Training and First Level.
The IDA is comprised of 680 student riders representing 60 colleges and universities in the US and Canada divided into 10 regions. The qualifying teams and individual riders earned their way to the Championship by earning points in IDA sanctioned competitions held throughout the academic year within their respective regions.
University of Florida and their dressage team hosted the event. Along with their host duties, the team was among one of the early qualifiers for the competition which also included Delaware Valley College, last year's National Champion Team, Virginia Intermont College, and Mt. Holyoke College. With three national championship titles each, Virginia Intermont and Mt. Holyoke have dominated the IDA since it began as a national organization in 2001.
Unlike traditional dressage competition where riders show on their own horses, IDA shows require that the host school provide the horses and tack, and riders chose their horses through random draw. This means that they are showing on unfamiliar horses with only ten minutes of warm up time to establish a relationship before entering the show ring.
In addition to the experience being very challenging, it brings a sense of team spirit to the sport of dressage not found anywhere else. "There is such camaraderie among the riders and the coaches," says Lisa Moosmueller-Terry, vice president of the IDA and Intermont's dressage coach. "The competition is intense, but there is still such a sense of support from the other teams. We all applaud one another and are happy when the ribbons are well distributed among riders from all the regions."
Officials for the event are USDF "S" judge, Charlotte Trentlemam, of Ocala, Fla. and "R" judge, Lisa Payne of Wellington, Fla. Among the numerous sponsors for the event are Thornhill Saddles, Perri's Leather, Techniche, Dressage Today and Westfield Whips.
The IDA began in 1995 as an informal competition among a small group of colleges and secondary schools in the northeast. Michelle Hoffman, who was a student at Mt. Holyoke during this time, was the originator of the IDA concept. She personally drew up the basic structure for the team competition and the guidelines for calculation of team points, which, for the most part, are still in use today.
Johnson and Wales University, Mt Holyoke College, Ethel Walker School, Williston Academy, Stoneleigh Burnham School and Savannah School of Art and Design were all among the first school-sponsored programs seeking to develop dressage as a "team" sport. The rapid international growth of dressage inspired greater development within college and secondary school riding programs. This led to an increase in participation and interest in a more formally constructed national organization.
In the spring of 2001, the first eastern region finals were held at Virginia Intermont College. During the finals, representatives from numerous colleges and secondary schools met to approve by-laws, elect officers and create the structure for the organization that is dedicated to increasing interest and participation in competitive dressage at the college and secondary school level.
The organization began with a handful of college members and quickly grew to include riders from all over the US and Canada. In 2003, the IDA became a college only organization.
The Lake Erie College Intercollegiate Dressage Association had a very successful 2010-2011 show season. The team kicked off the season by winning champion team at the first two shows hosted by Michigan State University and Albion College. This success continued throughout the season and earned the team the title of Regional Champion. The IDA team has many talented riders, several of whom were Region Champions and Reserve Champions in their individual divisions.