NKU junior jumps her way to national equestrian spotlight

For immediate release…
Tuesday – June 4, 2013

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky.
- Kiana Berry was born into a world of horses.

“Horses keep you humble,” the Northern Kentucky University junior public relations major said. “Riding horses is hard and rewarding…They are always teaching you something new.”

Berry has been competing with horses since she was nine years old. She usually practices three or four times per day on any horse that needs training. “Horses have been a big part of my life,” she said. “They taught me responsibility and perseverance.”

As a member of the NKU Equestrian Team, which was established in 2008, Berry’s love of horses has become more than just a hobby. This year, she won first place honors at the regional competition of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) and followed that up by finishing fifth out of 16 riders in the Novice Equitation Over Fences national competition.

The Boone County High School alumna said competing on the national stage was a bit intimidating at first. “Nationals blew my mind,” she said. “I kept looking around thinking, wow, these riders are really good. Then my coach and mom looked at me and said, ‘You made it here too!’” It was a moment she had looked forward to most of her life. “Growing up, everyone said it’s not a real sport,” she said. “But it’s the only sport in the Olympics that men and women compete equally in.”

The IHSA represents more than 9,000 riders and 400 colleges nationwide. According to its mission statement, the organization emphasizes learning, sportsmanship and fun. “Competition plays a role,” it states, “but the students’ enthusiasm and team spirit are the major factors.”

The NKU Equestrian Team is open to anyone – even those with little or no experience in horseback riding. It is coached by H&H Ranch (Burlington, Ky.) instructor Lynlee Foster. Berry credited the team’s support for helping her advance to the national competition. “The team is always cheering each other on,” she said. “It was an honor to represent NKU at nationals.”

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