Bedell makes history by becoming first SVSU rider to compete at the equestrian nationals

Published 8:36 pm Monday, July 10, 2023

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SAGINAW — Former Edwardsburg equestrian standout Annelise Bedell may have been a newcomer to the Saginaw Valley State University equestrian team this past season, but she set the tone for the Cardinals by earning a spot in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals, which the Kentucky Horse Park hosted in May in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bedell, who transferred to Saginaw Valley last year, won her semifinal hosted by the National Reigning Horse Association at The Grand Oaks Resort in Weirsdale, Florida.

Bedell was the first Cardinal to reach the semifinal in school history. For her accomplishments, she was named the Saginaw Valley Club Sports Athlete of the Year.

Bedell, a junior, advanced to the national finals by winning a regional championship and her national semifinal for the Saginaw Valley Stock Team in Individual Level II Horsemanship.

To win the national semifinal, Bedell defeated riders from Albion College, Penn State University, Blackhawk College, North Carolina State University, St. Andrew University and North Dakota State.

At the national finals, Bedell would finish 11th overall.

Albion’s Carli Kerns was the national champion, while Faith Borbonus, from the University of Findley, was the runner-up.

Bedell originally switched to Saginaw Valley State to work for the veterinary clinic called the Saginaw Valley Equine Clinic. Once she got to school, she decided to join the equestrian team.

“When I started my classes in the fall to finish my bachelor’s [degree], I heard about the equestrian team and thought it would be fun and a really good experience to get to show again,” she said.

Bedell said the season begins in September and continues through February.

“The postseason begins about three weeks after that,” she said.

The meets in which Saginaw Valley State participates have individual and team placings. The individual rider must acquire enough points to qualify for the postseason.

“You have to have a total of 36 points to qualify for regionals,” Bedell said. “For a team, you have to be the highest scoring team based on an average of all of the shows throughout the season to advance to regionals. Once you get to regionals, the top two riders — first and second place in the classes — and then the top-scoring team move on to the semifinals. At the semifinals, it is the top four who move on to nationals.”

Bedell’s accomplishments are even more impressive because she does not own the horse she had to use to compete at the various events.

“The whole thing about the IHSA program is that you do not have to own a horse to be on the team,” she said. “When we get to the shows, you go to the draw table, and you pick a card from a deck of cards, and whatever card you pick corresponds to a horse that is there. A lot of times you are riding a horse that you don’t even know and have never ridden before. That is kind of the point of all of it. You get to show off your skills as a horseman and be able to maneuver that horse and make that horse listen and you still look really good doing it.”

It can quite literally come down to the luck of the draw because, according to Bedell, some colleges bring their own horses.

“It is an advantage for those riders because they could possibly draw their own horse,” she said. “It is just so random.”

Bedell is planning to return to the team for her senior year.

“I would absolutely love to go back [to nationals], but have some of my teammates there competing too,” she said.

Looking back, Bedell said she is honored to have been the first Saginaw Valley State rider to compete at the national level.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I would really like to share that with them as well.”