Student competes in elite equestrian championship

By Elaine DeLeon

McKenna Coveney competed in the American Quarter Horse Association’s Collegiate Horsemanship Challenge on Nov. 15 and ranked 14 out of the top 16 collegiate riders of the nation; the event took place at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Coveney is a fourth-year science and agricultural business student with a minor in animal science. This is the first year that the AQHA selected her for the challenge. She was one of eight students that were selected by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Coveney was the first Cal Poly Pomona student to compete in the event.

“It’s an honor to be one of the 16 collegiate riders to take part in this event,” said Coveney.

The IHSA is one of two organizations that compete in this event, with the other being the National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Both organizations select their top eight riders to compete. Riders that participate in the competition are from different schools and states. Coveney was selected based on her standing from last year’s competition, when she made it into nationals and was named the high point rider, which qualified her for the list. The riders compete in either the Hunter Seat division or the Western division; Coveney competed in the Western division.

In order to determine what horse a rider competed with, a random drawing was held, and after the horse was chosen, it was prepared for the rider. The professional riders of the AQHA donated the horses that were used in the competition. The winner of the event received an award and scholarship.

The event was broadcast live online, which was how her family and friends watched the completion and gave Coveney their full support.

Coveney has been riding horses since she was 7 years old. The need to prove her abilities to herself and to persevere inspired her to compete in the competition. She has participated in multiple events and has competed in the Western Horsemanship for the past eight years.

“It’s a love of mine; I am very competitive person, [and] it gives me something to work hard at,” said Coveney.

Coveney has also been a member of CPP’s Horse Show Team for the past three years. In her second and third year with the organization, she acted as the Western captain and helped train team members prepare for upcoming horse shows. The Horse Show Team is CPP’s division of the IHSA, which is dedicated to inviting all students who are interested in horse riding to join and partake in the competitions.

Coveney is no longer a member of the Horse Show Team, but she still rides as an individual competitor. She remains in contact with the team and is friends with a few of the members. She also gives advice to the current captains whenever they contact her.

Both Coveney’s grandmother and friend traveled with her to the event. For Coveney, her grandmother has been really supportive when it comes to her horse riding. Coveney’s friend, Marie de Alcuaz, currently a fourth-year agricultural business student, was president of the CPP Horse Show Team for two years and used to work with Coveney. De Alcuaz also took part in some of the events, competing in the Huntseat division. As president, de Alcuaz oversaw the entire Horse Show Team, while Coveney oversaw the western division of the team.

When they first met in the Horse Show Team, de Alcuaz found Coveney to have a strong personality. As they practiced together, she found Coveney to be direct with her division and showed good qualities as a captain. With time they became friends, and Alcuaz began to travel with Coveney to her competitions. When Coveney told her the news that she would be participating in the competition, de Alcuaz couldn’t have been more excited.

“It was super exciting to see her get where she wanted to go since I was with her at all the steps and along the way,” said Alcuaz.

With the conclusion of the competition, Coveney plans to focus on her studies, as she plans to make a career in horse breeding and graduate in December.

McKenna Coveney

Elaine Deleon / The Poly Post

McKenna Coveney

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