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Wells wins 3rd in NCAA National Championships

Sophomore Lisa Wells of Penn Valley, a member of the Fresno State University equestrian team, has won third place in the first-ever NCAA Individual Equestrian National Championships. Held at Baylor University in Waco, Texas on April 20, the individual championship followed the National Championship Team competition held on the preceding two days.

On the Team Level

Of the 23 teams which comprise the roster of NCAA teams, only 12 qualified for the national championships.



In their lineup for the national championships, Fresno State ranked No. 8 for its English squad . The English squad beat No. 9 New Mexico State in their first round of the championships before losing to No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 4 South Carolina the next day of the competition.

The Individual Championship




Coming into the Individual finals, Wells had been name the Most Valuable Player on four different occasions, earned an astonishing score of 94 out of a possible 100 in one of her matches; and she had an average score of 77 for all of her rounds during the season. According to Wells, the level of the competition among the top four riders for the individual championships was comparable to the prestigious Maclay Finals conducted by the National Horse Show Association.

Like all of the other competitions throughout the year, the championship competitors ride the horses provided by the host school. In each round, the rider competes against one other rider on the same horse. Each rider has a very limited time to warm up on the designated horse, take it over a few fences, and then compete. Depending upon the order of her ride, she may go first or follow the rider against whom she is competing.

As Wells said, the order of one’s ride can have obvious advantages or disadvantages depending upon the energy level and way of going of the individual horse. If your designated horse is a high energy horse and your competitor rides first and “fries” the horse, it may be very difficult to bring him back for your own successful round. Conversely, if you have a low-energy horse and you ride second, the horse may have little energy left to compete successfully.

For her warm-up Lisa was led down a corridor into a small indoor room measuring approximately 20 feet by 20 feet with a ceiling height of about 15 feet, which is very low by most standards. After just a four-minute warm-up, she was led down another long corridor to the huge covered arena for her competition.

Lisa said the course which she rode was one of her most challenging ever. The eight fences ranged in height from 3ft to 3ft 6 inches with similar spreads. Every single line was challenging, with lots of bending lines and many lines with just one or two strides between jumps.

Unfortunately for Lisa, her horse didn’t have the biggest stride. Like all of the rounds throughout the competition year, her ride was judged by two large R, United States Equestrian Federation carded judges. Each judge independently judged the round and issued a score for the ride and then the two scores were averaged for the final score of the round. In her first round, Lisa took on No. 2 ranked Kristin Terebisi from South Carolina. Terebisi beat Wells by five points, 137-132, and then went on to win both the individual fences and flat national championships. As reported on the Fresno State website review, coach Becky Malmo stated, “Lisa had a great weekend at the national championships. It was a great culmination of a great season for her and it took a national champion to beat her…”

Lisa’s goal for the 2008-09 year is to again make the top four individual riders and then hopefully win the championship in both on the flat and over fences classes.

Her Advice to Other Aspiring Equestrians

Asked what advice she would give other young riders, Lisa indicated that you should work as hard as you can. Ride as many different horses and work under as many different trainers as you can. She highly suggests that young riders explore the opportunities provided by the United States Pony Club program for affordable instruction, clinics and rallies, all of which give riders a variety of broad experiences. As a past member of both the local 49ers Pony Club and Northern Mines Pony Club, Lisa earned her B rating, one of the USPC’s highest ratings. As riding is an expensive sport, Lisa advises that you spend your money where it counts and have as many experiences as you possible can.

Lisa, the daughter of Carol and Doug Wells, started her riding career at age 7 at a local stable in Penn Valley. At age 10, her mother and father purchased her a 4-year-old green stallion which they sold two years latter. At the age of 12 she received a 15-year-old Pony of the Americas named Willy Wonka who was a talented jumper. According to Lisa, Willy is still going strong in the Bay Area in the pony hunter circuit at age 22.

At age 15, Lisa bought her present horse Savanah for just $1.00. She has done clinics with the renowned George Morris and spent her last two months before going to college working with Patty Ball of Loomis.

As an NCAA rider Lisa has traveled the country, competed at other schools and had the opportunity to face off with talented collegians on a national level. We can all look forward to following the career of this wonderful area rider as she continues to represent the Fresno State Bulldogs so capably.

Carolyn Bronson has been involved in showing and raising Welsh ponies and Cobs since 1994. She is a director of the Welsh Pony and Cob Association of California, having served on several national committees for the breed. Her animals have appeared in the Rose Parade as well as in a variety of educational forums. She and her family reside at their farm in Penn Valley. Carolyn can be reached at cpbronson@aol.com


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