Journal on the Road

2011 Varsity Equestrian National Championships Day Two

April 16, 2011

Two Auburn University riders are double All Americans.

By Larri Jo Starkey

Leslie "Indy" Roper of Hobart, Indiana, pivots for the judges in horsemanship at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships in Waco, Texas. Indy rides for Auburn University. To see more photos from the competition, scroll to the slide show below. (Larri Jo Starkey photo)

Leslie “Indy” Roper’s name is familiar to many AQHYA exhibitors and fans.

During her AQHYA career, Indy earned two world championships, four reserve world championships and one third-place finish at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.  She was on the 2006 team representing the United States at the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup in Amarillo.

When Indy finished high school in Hobart, Indiana, she headed south to Auburn, Alabama, where she rides on the Varsity Equestrian team for the Auburn Tigers. This weekend, she’s at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships in Waco, Texas.

This year is the first that Varsity Equestrian has named All Americans, and Indy made the list in two categories: horsemanship and reining. She’s one of only two student-athletes to be named in two categories, sharing that honor with teammate Maggie McAlary, who competes in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences.

“I’m flattered by the honor,” Indy says. “I was surprised. I’ve only been doing the reining for about a year now, and it’s honestly a privilege to be named in the first year of it, and then to be named a double All American – I’m flabbergasted.”

Indy got started in reining through Auburn after her all-around horse was euthanized.

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“It was devastating,” she says. “I started reining collegiately, but then I called my dad and said, ‘I’ve been on a couple of reiners at school and I want to change base. This is what I want to do.’”

The sophomore plans to show her new 4-year-old at the National Reining Horse Association Derby in June.

“It’s fun to do something change of pace,” she says. “My sister (Samantha) is very competitive, so now she’s like, ‘Hey, Dad, I need a reiner.’ So hopefully she’ll be doing it with me and it will be a family affair.”

Varsity Equestrian is an emerging NCAA sport, and AQHA is a sponsor of it.

To see more photos from the event, watch the slide slow below. Click on each photo to read the caption.

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