Illinois State’s club equestrian team sent Hunt Seat Show Coordinator Lynne Kubik to the Zone 7 Championships over the weekend, where she placed first and earned her place at Nationals.
After placing in the top two at the regional competition, Kubik qualified for the Zone 7 Championships, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I practiced a lot, took lessons and tried to prepare myself mentally,” Kubik said. “Since the Zone Championships included everyone who placed first or second in their regions, there were people from schools like North Central Texas, Texas A&M, Louisiana State, Notre Dame and Illinois and I really had no idea what the competition was going to be like. It was a whole other ball park.”
As a part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Assosication (IHSA), ISU competes as a member of zone 7, region 5.
Going into the competition, the host school provides the horses at a random draw, and Kubik was lucky enough to draw the same horse she rode the previous day, which took some of the pressure off of her performance.
“I felt good about my run, but the class was tight,” Kubik said. “While I was watching, everyone seemed equal and there weren’t any huge mistakes.”
Kubik is the first ISU equestrian to qualify for nationals, making her first-place triumph at the Zone 7 Championships all the more emotional.
“It felt amazing,” Kubic said. “I started crying instantly … I felt very honored and grateful.”
Another attendee of the Zone 7 Championships was Bob Cacchione, the founder of IHSA. While he usually splits his time between the East and West Coast zone competitions, he made an appearance in the Midwest and personally congratulated Kubik on her win.
“It was a huge deal that he was there,” Kubic said. “Before college, I was never able to afford to compete in shows, which was my dream, so when I met him I expressed my gratitude toward him for founding IHSA and allowing me to do what I love.
“He was the nicest person … And he was proud to hear that someone who was never able to show before was able to go on to nationals.”
The next step for Kubik is nationals in Harrisburg, Penn., where she will compete against equestrians from all across the country in early May.
“The show will be hosted in a show facility that is home to numerous large competitions, so it will be awesome to be able to ride in that arena and compete with the best in the nation,” Kubik said.
To prepare for nationals, Kubik hopes to ride almost every day and work on some technical things such as looking into how some of the testing is different than during regionals and zones.
“It will be stiff competition but I think I’m ready,” Kubik said.