Handling her horse with poise and skill won Dani Picard first place in the Individual Advanced Horsemanship class at the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) 2017 Western Semifinals.
A sophomore agricultural business major at Missouri State University, Picard competed against riders from across the country at the regional competition held recently in Canyon, Texas.
She said the IHSA competition is challenging because riders have to ride and show a horse they have not worked with before. They also do not have time to warm up the horse.
“Every horse has different ‘buttons’ to make it do its job, so it’s up to the rider to quickly assess the horse and show it to best of the rider’s and horse’s ability,” said Picard from Grain Valley. “I can’t communicate verbally with the horse I’m riding to tell it what to do, so I have to use my seat, legs and the reins. This is my horsemanship ability.”
Preparing for nationals
Thanks to her win, Picard is now one of the top 12 riders in the Advanced Western division in the United States. She also qualified for the IHSA National Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, next month.
“I expect my competitors to give me a run for my money, but I will prepare as thoroughly as I can and try my absolute hardest to be successful,” said Picard, who started competing in horse shows at age 16 through 4-H, a youth development organization.
Her training includes practicing during her equestrian competition class and riding on the ranch horse team at MSU. She also works with her coach, Sue Webb, senior instructor of agriculture at MSU, and her own trainer, Stacey Roberson.
Webb believes Picard has two important skills that serve her well in this type of competition: confidence and relating well to a horse.
“She presents the attitude that she is the best rider in the class,” Webb said. “Also, she pays very close attention to the horse she is riding and communicates with it very softly and effectively.”