87° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Trip to Nationals caps off senior equestrian rider’s college career

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Ryback
Texas State psychology senior Ali Smith, competes in Cacchione Cup Over Fences at the IHSA Nationals, Saturday, May 4, 2024, at Tyron International Equestrian Center and Resort in Tyron, North Carolina.

On May 4, Texas State psychology graduate student Ali Smith capped off her college career at the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Nationals placing 13th out of 26 riders.

Smith joined the Texas State Equestrian Team in January 2022 after transferring from Schreiner University with a background in riding for the Central Texas Hunter & Jumper Association (CTHJA).

“Both my parents rode horses, so I guess it’s in my blood,” Smith said. “I started riding [when] I was six.”

Four shows at the beginning of the season allow riders to accumulate enough points to attend the regional show which Smith qualified for in early March.

In IHSA competitions, riders don’t bring their horses. Texas State Equestrian Coach Katherine Deichmann has riders rotate horses each practice session to gain a variety of experience which prepares them for competing with an unfamiliar horse.

“Horseback riding is like 90% mental,” Texas State Equestrian Coach Katherine Deichmann said. “It’s a nerve-wracking sport to be in, especially when they go to our shows and draw a horse out of a hat.”

Deichmann said equestrian is an equitation-based sport meaning judges are looking for the style and quality of riding that is seemingly effortless.

According to Deichmann, the Cacchione Cup is awarded at the regional competition to the “high point rider” that has gained the most points throughout the season for the entire region.

At the 2024 Region Four show competing against 12 schools, Smith received the Cacchione Cup and secured a spot to compete in Open Flat at the Zone Five competition.

Smith placed 3rd in the Open Flat event during the Zone Five competition which earned her a spot at Nationals.

Other than the many years Smith spent riding equestrian, she said consistency, hard work and determination are big factors in her personal success.


Texas State psychology senior Ali Smith, poses with the Cacchione Cup at the Region 4 IHSA competition, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo Courtesy of Nancy Holland)


“The biggest part for me is just my love for horses. And so I really try to make it a point to make it about the horses, and they’re just really special to me,” Smith said.

Texas State Equestrian captain and human development sophomore, Rachel Hammer, described Smith as a team player, leader and role model for the team.

“We gave her the most supportive award because she really is just so willing to just participate and she’s always the first one to give you a high five [or] give you a hug,” Hammer said.

As Smith graduates in spring, she not only ended her college career on a high note but also left a legacy for her teammates to follow.

“[Smith] giving me advice is really what I’m taking away most from this season, just getting her insight, her perspective, she is just so knowledgeable,” Hammer said. “I really value that, [it] shows she’s really someone you want on your side.”

Though Smith’s journey riding for Texas State may be over, she has no plan to leave Equestrian after graduation.

Deichmann and Smith were both members of CTHJA in Austin, much before arriving at Texas State. Deichmann watched Smith grow up in equestrian and will continue to be a mentor for her after graduation.

“Fortunately, I think Katherine is always going to be family to me. And so I’m sure she will let me continue on riding as much as I want with her, I’ll probably do some shows with her as well,” Smith said.

Smith reflected on her experience with Texas State Equestrian and said the connections made along the way are what she will miss the most.

“When I joined, I had no idea I was going to make it to Nationals,” Smith said. “The real highlight of [the season] was the connections that I made with the girls, they’re lifelong friendships, you know?”

Donate to The University Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University Star