Head Coach – Guiding Principals

2016 graduate Katie Thomas recently interviewed the St. Andrews Intercollegiate Head Coaches as part of her Interdisciplinary Studies major.

KT: Briefly, could you tell me about your coaching philosophy?

Robin Brooks Head IHSA Hunter Seat Coach. “I believe in developing confident and empathic riders. I think that as coaches it is our job to make our riders feel confident about their abilities, and to help them to better understand and appreciate their horses.”

Carla Wennberg Head IHSA Western Coach. “Mental prep is key to winning. Riders MUST be athletic and fit. Riders must WANT to be a part of the team, not stand alone. ”

Jackie Dwelle Head IDA Dressage Coach. “Coaching is all about preparing students to participate in the job of competing. They need to view the competition as a job to be done and not allow the pressures of competition to get in their way. In addition to being able to ride, they need to be mentally tough to handle whatever comes their way in the competitive arena”


Why should equestrian students choose St. Andrews?

2016 graduate Katie Thomas recently interviewed the St. Andrews Intercollegiate Head Coaches as part of her Interdisciplinary Studies major.

KT: Why do you think equestrian students should come to St. Andrews?

Robin Brooks Head IHSA Hunter Seat Coach. “I think that St. Andrews develops well rounded, educated, and compassionate riders and trainers. We offer something for every rider, and provide an education catered to any part of the equine industry in which our students would like to enter.”

Carla Wennberg Head IHSA Western Coach. “Personal attention, great horses, great facility, and great instruction”

Jackie Dwelle Head IDA Dressage Coach. “Our goal is to develop students into respected horsemen and women who value and appreciate the horse. Although competition is an important part of what we do, developing people to be able to think for themselves, analyze situations and be confident informed leaders and decision makers is really what we do.”


Equestrian Teams-6553_resize
The St. Andrews Equestrian Team

Head Coach Thoughts

2016 graduate Katie Thomas recently interviewed the St. Andrews Intercollegiate Head Coaches as part of her Interdisciplinary Studies major.

Head Coaches Robin Brooks, Carla Wennberg & Jackie Dwelle
Head Coaches Robin Brooks, Carla Wennberg & Jackie Dwelle

KT: What type of philosophy do you have about riding and training?

Robin Brooks Head IHSA Hunter Seat Coach. “There is no place for big egos, negative emotions, or poor attitudes around horses. It is our responsibility as riders to understand that when things are not going right the first thing that we need to look into is ourselves. If we were doing a better job asking then our horses would do a better job understanding.”

Carla Wennberg Head IHSA Western Coach. “Takes a student several years of showing IHSA to be good in IHSA. Students have to learn FEEL of horses and learn to be a great catch rider in IHSA. Mistakes are made, NEVER assume a rider knows.”

Jackie Dwelle Head IDA Dressage Coach. “Be fair to the horse, listen to the horse as he is never wrong but can be confused. For riders allow them to make mistakes so they can feel the difference between doing something the right way and the wrong way. Be patient with riders and horses as they struggle to develop the skill and finesse to perform.”

IHSA National Co-Champions 2016!
IHSA National Co-Champions 2016! – Tied with Berry College
IHSA Zone Champions 2016!
IHSA Zone Champions 2016!
IDA National Championships 2016
IDA National Championships 2016

St Andrews New Head Coach Robin Brooks Advances Her Team to IHSA Zones

Robin Brooks
Photo by Vinton Karrasch
Photo by Vinton Karrasch

St. Andrews has the great honor to announce that we have gained a new IHSA Hunter Seat coach – Robin Brooks. Robin came to St. Andrews in the Fall of 2015 from California. Within just a few months she became the Head Coach when the position became vacant. Robin has had many years of experience in the horse world ranging from riding, training to marketing. Robin loved horses since she was a little girl. She grew up in Chesapeake City, MD where she started showing mostly in the jumper ring a career that advanced to the junior jumpers. Robin attended the well-known equestrian school, Virginia Intermont where she was avid member of the Equestrian Team. She majored in business administration and minored in equine studies, areas in which she excelled. In December of 2014 Robin completed her MBA at Wilmington University. Robin began her professional career at Abingdon Equestrian Center where she was the Director of the Program, training students as well as horses. After that Robin went back to her alma mater where she worked for seven years. At Virginia Intermont, Robin worked as the Director of Admissions as well as working in the marketing department. Eventually Robin became one of the amazing coaches in the Virginia Intermont equestrian program. In October of 2014 Robin packed up her bags and moved across the country fulfilling her dreams in the horse world. She accepted a position with Coral Reef Ranch of Rancho Santa Fe in California. Where she rode for them until July of 2015. The most recent move brought Robin back to the east coast to Laurinburg, NC where she is now the St. Andrews IHSA Head Coach. As her career at St. Andrews is still young she has already brought in a numerous amount of wins for the Equestrian team. The team continues to advance under her supervision and leadership and will travel to IHSA Zones in a couple weeks. “This first year with St. Andrews has been an amazing experience, I have enjoyed working with all of the great students, wonderful horses, and knowledgeable and caring staff.” ~Robin Robin has greatly impacted many riders and horses around the nation in her life as she continues to have a great impact on the St. Andrews Equestrian Program        

Western Team Headed to Semi-Finals!

The St. Andrews Western Equestrian Team has qualified to compete in the National Semi-Finals in Murfreesboro, TN March 17-21, 2016.  This is a playoff competition consisting of the top Regional Champion teams in the country.  This competition will decide which three teams from each of the Semi-Final competitions will advance to the National Championship in May.

The students who qualified to represent St. Andrews in this competition are:

Jordan Belanger

Kara Copeland

Cailey Culp

Mark Mowbray

Janelle Petruska

Conner Smith

Dillon Vaughn

Jarret Vaughn

Natasha Worker




A Crash Course Into IHSA

by Rachel Gaardsmoe for Equine Business Management class

Some of you may be sitting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. watching your friends compete through this organization called Intercollegiate Horse Show Association a.k.a. IHSA. Now, some people may understand it and others may be scrolling past these post and pictures completely lost on the gibberish that their friend is speaking. That’s where I come in. Since we are getting ready for IHSA Western Regionals this Sunday February 28th and Hunter Seat Regionals Saturday March 12th, I figured I would give you a crash course into IHSA and how our wonderful riders got the opportunity to be competing during these final horse shows.

Now a quick intro into what exactly IHSA is and how riders get involved. IHSA is an opportunity for all levels of riders to compete in horse shows throughout their collegiate career. The two main disciplines people compete in are Hunter Seat Equitation and Western Horsemanship. Some schools hold try outs to accept riders onto their teams, other schools do not, it all depends on the college and how they wish to run their team. When a rider is accepted onto an IHSA team they get put into a specific division for them to compete in based on their prior horseback riding and horse showing experience. The IHSA divisions are as follows:

Western Levels:WesternRibbons

Beginner Western Horsemanship

Intermediate Western Horsemanship

-Intermediate Western   Horsemanship I

-Intermediate Western Horsemanship II

Novice Western Horsemanship

Advanced Western Horsemanship

Open Western Horsemanship and Open Reining Pattern

Hunter Seat Levels:

Walk-Trot Hunter Seat Equitation

Walk-Trot-Canter Hunter Seat Equitation

-Beginning Walk-Trot-Canter

-Advanced Walk-Trot-Canter

Novice Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences

Intermediate Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences

Open Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences

Now down to the nitty-gritty of how you, as an IHSA rider, are able reach Regionals. Schools are grouped into regions based on their location. Throughout the year schools in specific regions host horse shows in which their facility, horses, and tack are used to host the shows. There are anywhere from 5-10 regular season horse shows throughout the fall and spring semester. When a school hosts a horse show, other collegiate teams come to the host school to compete in an IHSA Horse show. An outside judge is hired to judge the show for that one day. The riders that are showing that day will compete in one class of their division they were placed into. Riders complete the class and are pinned first through sixth and each ribbon has a set amount of points associated with it. The points are as follows:

 First- 7 points

Second- 5 points

Third- 4 points

Fourth- 3 points

Fifth- 2 points

Sixth- 1 point

The main focus of horse shows should always be to have fun and ride to the best of your ability. But ribbons and placings do hold a special value in IHSA competitions. The points from your placings at the horse show are logged after each show and added up. Once you have obtained 36 points in the current level you are competing at you “point up” into the next division and boom! You have qualified for Regionals. It is like they say “hard work pays off”.

When a rider competes at Regionals they compete as an individual rider. They must place first or second to move onto Zones (Hunter Seat) or Semi-Finals (Western). Once a hunter seat rider is at zones they must place first or second to move onto the National Horse Show. For western riders they must place first through fourth at Semi-Finals to be eligible to compete at Nationals.

I hope this post has enlightened you into the wonderful world of IHSA and how a rider is able to compete at the end of the year horse shows. IHSA is a good opportunity for everyone to get involved with horseback riding and competitions. All the riders on both teams have worked hard to get them where they are this season. Good luck to all the western team competing this weekend, may the odds be in your favor!


IHSA Hunter Seat Show – Saturday, Dec. 5th

St. Andrews tied with N.C. State for High Point team at the show on Dec. 5 with 37 points.  Duke University was Reserve High Point with 35 points.
Overall Team Standings (after 5 out of 7 shows)
St. Andrews University                        199
NC State University                             165
UNC-Chapel Hill                                  140
UNC-Charlotte                                     144
Duke University                                   144
UNC-Wilmington                                 121
East Carolina University                     111
Campbell University                           58 (DNC)
Individual Results
Walk Trot      
Steven Dennis – 2nd
Beginner Walk Trot Canter
Jordan Belanger – 2nd
Samantha Garriques – 3rd
Advanced Walk Trot Canter
Jarett Vaughn – 1st
Kathleen Wilson – 1st
Charlie Robuck – 4th
Novice Flat
Mackenzie Parks – 1st
Janelle Petruska – 1st
Alex Varisco – 1st
Kirsten Farley – 3rd
Novice over Fences
Kirsten Farley – 2nd
Stacy Ferraro – 4th
Zoe Cluck – 6th
Intermediate Flat
Kat Owens – 4th
Liz Shaffer – 4th
Intermediate over Fences
Scout Maddox – 2nd
Open Flat
Kelsey Kocher – 1st
Amy Wrozek – 4th
Open over Fences
Kelsey Kocher – 2nd
Amy Wrozek – 3rd


ECU IHSA Hunter Seat Show

Hunter Seat Team

St. Andrews was high point team with 42 points. Reserve high point was UNC – Chapel Hill with 38 points.


Overall Team Standings (after 4 out of 7 shows)

St. Andrews University                        162

NC State University                             128

UNC-Charlotte                                  113

UNC-Chapel Hill                                  120

Duke University                                   109

UNC-Wilmington                                 101

East Carolina University                     93

Campbell University                            58


St. Andrews Hunter Seat IHSA Individual Results – Nov. 22

 Walk Trot

Steven Dennis – 1st

 Beginner Walk Trot Canter

Jarret Vaughn – 1st

Jordan Belanger – 2nd

 Advanced Walk Trot Canter

Charlie Robuck – 3rd

Taylor Westover – 3rd

Novice Flat

Mackenzie Parks – 1st

Stacy Ferraro – 1st

Kaihly Gonzalez – 5th

Novice Fences

Amy Carter – 2nd

Stacy Ferraro – 4th

 Intermediate Flat

Liz Shaffer – 2nd


Intermediate Fences

Scout Maddox – 1st

Caitlyn Woychik – 3rd

Open Flat

Kelsey Kocher – 1st

Amy Wrozek – 3rd


Open Fences

Amy Wrozek – 2nd

Kelsey Kocher – 3rd

Five Horse Show Weekend!

“The best part of going to shows with St. Andrews students is seeing the light bulbs click as they understand new concepts and break through new barriers in their riding careers, making these day and weekend shows chock full of knowledge and experience”. ~ Kelsi Peterson

Mother Nature decided we needed a slow start to our show season this year. So unusually our first really busy weekend did not occur until now. Five horse shows in one weekend!

At home the Western IHSA team hosted a show each day which was the first home shows of the year for the program and for Event Manager Robin Brooks who has jumped head first into this part of her job. For students new to St. Andrews this year it was their first experience of the machine that makes at home events possible. Conner Smith summed up the cooperation and teamwork that make at home events possible, “Keep doing what you’re doing! We’re doing great!”

Saturday the St. Andrews team tied with Virginia Tech for Reserve High Point Team and Sunday they took a clear lead as High Point Team.
Team Standings after Two shows;
St. Andrews                67
NCSU                          61
Virginia Tech              50
Liberty                        45
Martin                        41
Appalachian State     38
Campbell                   25
Western Carolina      22

Kelsi Peterson traveled to Greensboro for the Haunted Classic and sent in these results.
Liz Shaffer brought her own Paulchen to show in the open jumper classes, and won the 3’6 and the 4′ classes with beautiful rounds. This was Pauly’s first horse show jumping a 4′ course.

Greensboro Haunted Classic
Greensboro Haunted Classic

Jovan Daniel showed St. Andrews’ Platina in the 2’6 and Low Child/Adult jumpers. They earned a

2nd in the 2’6 and a 4th in the Low Child/Adult Stake class. Jovan looks forward to showing Platina in the future!

Hannah Newman, Katie Hines, and Hannah Sutton showed Camp Blue Star’s Benjamin Moore and St. Andrews’ horses Obi-Wan and Kemosabe, in the Long Stirrup hunter and equitation divisions. They came home with armfuls of ribbons and horse show experience. Hannah N. won a 2nd, two 3rds, and two 4th places. Katie earned a 4th, two 5ths, and two 6th place ribbons. Hannah S. earned a 2nd, 4th, and two 5th places.

The IHSA Hunter Seat Team headed out early to the Duke/Chapel Hill show. Weeks of practice and preparation paid off with several blue ribbons and High Point Team title.

IHSA Hunter Seat High Point Team at Duke/Chapel Hill Show
IHSA Hunter Seat High Point Team at Duke/Chapel Hill Show
Megan Pustarfi riding Astaire. Megan won Training Level Test 2 with a score of 70.385%
Megan Pustarfi riding Astaire. Megan won Training Level Test 2 with a score of 70.385%

The Eventing Team traveled to Antares Dressage to hone their competitive skills in the dressage arena. This was also a great practice for upcoming Intercollegiate Dressage Association shows (IDA).

Riders rode Training and First level tests earning good scores and improving on past performances.
Kelsi Peterson summed up the weekend well while reflecting the Greensboro show. “These students worked so well as a team, supporting each other, helping each other get ready, and took excellent care of our 4 legged friends. The best part of going to shows with SAU students is seeing the light bulbs click as they understand new concepts and break through new barriers in their riding careers, making these day and weekend shows chock full of knowledge and experience.”

IHSA Hunter Seat Wins at UNC-Wilmington

Congratulations to the IHSA Hunter Seat Team winning at UNC – Wilmington on Sunday with 38 points to UNC – Wilmington’s 29 points.

Jordan Belanger, Ashley Derrer, Zoe Cluck, Hannah Newman, Kaihly Gonzalez, Katie Thomas, Mackenzie Parks and Sabrina Vlacich all won their divisions with Belanger and Cluck qualifying for Regionals in Walk/Trot/Canter and Walk/Trot respectively.

Jarret Vaughn showing in hunter seat for the first time for St. Andrews placed second in Beginning Walk/Trot/Canter. (Previously, Jarret has ridden on the Western team only.) Callie Militz, Kathryn Owens, Mary Thomson and Sabrina Vlachich joined Jarret earning second place and five points in their divisions.

Winners IHSA Hunter Seat at Wilmington
Champion Team at UNC-Wilmington Oct 18, 2015

Team Results
St. Andrews – 39
UNC-Wilmington – 29
UNC-Charlotte – 27
UNC-Chapel Hill – 26
NC State University – 24
Campbell University – 20
Duke University – 18
East Carolina University – 17

Jordan Belanger 1st

Beginner Walk/Trot/Canter
Ashley Derrer 1st
Jarret Vaughn 2nd

Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter
Zoe Cluck 1st
Hannah Newman 1st
Callie Militz 2nd
Danaye Mokma 4th

Novice Flat
Kaihly Gonzalez 1st
Katie Thomas 1st
Kathryn Owens 2nd
Mary Thomson 2nd
Sabrina Vlachich 2nd

Novice Over Fences
Mackenzie Parks 1st
Katie Thomas 6th

Intermediate Flat
Liz Shaffer 4th

Intermediate Over Fences
Sabrina Vlacich 1st

Open Flat
Kelsey Kocher 4th
Amy Wrozek 4th

Open Over Fences
Kelsey Kocher 3rd