About the Team
The Mississippi State University Equestrian Team is a competitive horseback riding team participating within the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). IHSA is a national organization that encompasses over 400 member colleges and universities with a total of 10,000 members. Riders compete in either the English or Western discipline. IHSA welcomes all levels of riders, from complete beginners to open level riders, to compete.
English riders compete in Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat and Hunt Seat Equitation over Fences. Riders that compete in the Equitation on the Flat are required to demonstrate proper riding of the horse at all gaits (walk, trot, and canter) while maintaining an accurate and stylish body position.
In the Hunt Seat Equitation over fences class, riders are judged on their ability to negotiate a course of jumps on an unfamiliar horse, while maintaining proper style and body position throughout. They must execute a smooth and consistent round while making it appear to be effortless.
Western riders compete in Horsemanship and Reining. In the Horsemanship classes, riders are evaluated on their ability to execute a set of maneuvers within a pattern with precision and smoothness while exhibiting poise and confidence, and maintaining a balanced and correct body position. The ideal horsemanship pattern is precise with the rider and horse working in complete unison, executing each maneuver with subtle aids and cues.
The Reining is judged on the rider’s ability to guide and control the horse’s every movement. Horses should be willingly guided through a predetermined pattern comprised of circles, spins, and sliding stops while maintaining smoothness, finesse, quickness, and authority while using controlled speed.
Meet the Coaches
Ashley Glenn has been riding and competing in horse shows since she was a young child and has been working in the industry for the past 18 years. Ashley competed in AQHA circuit across the country in the all-around events. She has been a two-time AQHYA World Show qualifier in Hunt Seat Equitation, Horsemanship, and Showmanship and an All-American Quarter Horse Congress finalist in Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation.
Ashley completed her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University receiving a B.S. in Animal Science in 2004 and a M.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources Systems Science from University of Tennessee-Martin. During her time at Texas A&M, she competed on the equestrian team in Open Horsemanship and Reining on a full athletic scholarship. Ashley earned two IHSA National Championships in 2003 and 2004.
Upon graduation, Ashley trained reining horses under the guidance of NRHA Million Dollar Rider, Nathan Piper and later trained all-around horses on her own.
In 2006, Ashley accepted an NCAA coaching position at New Mexico State University. There, she led the western team to a 3rd place National Championships finish in 2007. Additionally, she coached an individual rider to a top three National Championships placing in Horsemanship and Reining in 2009.
In 2010, Ashley took over the western coaching position at the University of Tennessee-Martin, who also competed in the NCAA. In 2011 and 2012, the team advanced to the National Championships, seeded 11th and 12th respectively. In 2013, the Skyhawks won the United Equestrian Conference Championships and advanced to the National Championships seeded 10th. In 2014, the team earned an 11th place seeding at the National Championships.
Ashley then moved to Starkville, MS in 2015, accepting the Equine Facility Coordinator position at Mississippi State University. In 2016, she was asked to lead the MS State IHSA equestrian team in addition to her other duties. Since taking over the team in 2016, the Bulldogs have been a top contender in Zone 5, Region 2, consistently finishing in the top three in the region as a western team and having regional high point riders, Regional, Zone and Semi-final qualifiers and riders finishing top 10 at the IHSA National Championships. In 2018, Ashley coached rider, Mary Claire Cornett, to a top five placing at the IHSA National Championships. In 2020, rider Hart Daniels, earned Regional High-Point Rider, advancing her to the IHSA National Championships, where she placed 3rd in reining. In 2022, the Bulldogs had seven riders advance to the Regional Championships, hosted by Mississippi State University. Of those seven, two advanced to the Semi-Final and Zone competition.
Coach Hannah Valigura is a native Texan, born and raised in Austin, Texas. She started riding at the age of 8, predominantly English, and by the age of 14, she was training young horses and teaching lessons. She competed in multiple associations including USEF, CTHJA, and USHJA. As an undergraduate, she was a member of the West Texas A&M Equestrian team and competed both English and Western. She was also a member of the WTAMU Horse Judging Team and was the president of the WT Horsemans Association. She graduated from West Texas A&M with dual degrees in Equine Business and Industry and Agribusiness. After her undergraduate degree, she completed her Masters degree from Texas A&M in Animal Science, with a focus in equine exercise physiology and nutrition. At Texas A&M, she discovered a love for equine extension programs and became heavily involved in multiple programs, such as the Summer Horsemanship Program, the Texas 4H State Show, etc. Additionally, she became certified as a Professional Animal Scientist, with an equine focus. Currently here at Mississippi State, she is working towards her PhD in Animal Science with a with a focus in equine exercise physiology and supplementation. In addition to coaching the Hunt Seat Team, she also teaches some of the classes here at MSU and is heavily involved in various equine extension programs.