top of page
  • Writer's pictureCatie Staszak

Essex Classics is a Winning Tradition for Two-Time NCEA National Champion Augusta Iwasaki

Augusta Iwasaki competes at the NCEA National Championship in an Essex Classics Ladies' Talent Yarn show shirt with a custom SMU Mustang trim. Photo by Keagan Phillips Photography

Augusta Iwasaki is in her second year of studies at Southern Methodist University.She's already a two-time NCEA National Champion.

Iwasaki, 20, is part of the SMU Mustang squad that captured its second consecutive dual-discipline title at the recently concluded NCEA National Championships at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, FL. Capturing a 12-7 victory over Texas Christian University, SMU never trailed in the championship. 

After earning its first ever national title in equestrian sport a year ago, the Mustangs have quickly added to their tally. SMU is the only school outside of the Big 12 and SEC to have won an equestrian National Championship. The Mustangs are also just the third equestrian program to win back-to-back national titles.

"I really had the best time," said Iwasaki, a psychology major with a minor in English. "I absolutely love SMU and love the team. I'm super close with [my teammates]—it's like a family. I think that's why we've been able to be so successful the last two years."

Iwasaki won both of her points, defeating Ashleigh Scully on the flat, 81.67-81 and recording a 91.33-79.67 victory over fences against Lilly Goldstein. She was named the NCEA Most Outstanding Performer over fences and was named to the NCEA All-Championship Team both over fences and on the flat.

"I just started [competing on] the flat this year. Competing in both [fences and flat] is definitely different," Iwasaki shared. "We don't have a conference championship, so we prepare a lot longer for Nationals than a lot of other teams. 

"I practice pretty normally for jumping—it's something I'm very comfortable doing," she continued, "but I had to practice a lot for the flat. I rode through the pattern at least three times every time I rode, and I worked on keeping the horses in front of me in the smaller [sized arena]." 

Iwasaki's success in the show ring reads like a laundry list. Referencing her as the 2022 ASPCA Maclay National Champion; 2022 USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals — East Champion; 2022 WIHS Equitation Finals Champion; and 2023 North American Youth Championships individual silver medalist would just begin to spell out the highlights.

Through it all, Iwasaki has relied on Essex Classics, Cathy Sacher's iconic show shirt brand known for its elegant straight collar, classic style, unmistakable interior trim patterns, and state-of-the-art performance fabrics. Iwasaki wore Essex when she captured her historic Maclay title and continues to wear the brand in the ring, both when competing for her school and at home with her family's Makoto Farms.

"I’ve been wearing Essex shirts for years. I don’t even know to judge how long I’ve been wearing them. I love them," Iwasaki said. " I love the team shirts as well, especially the pony monogram on the front. They're just the best."

SMU competes in Essex Classics Ladies Talent Yarn show shirts embroiders the SMU Mustang logo on the collar. Essex recently launched its "Design Your Own" platform on its website, where customers can place custom orders online with either custom embroidery or a custom trim design—a great way to showcase one's team, farm, or personal brand in a sophisticated way in the show ring.

"[Essex shirts] are so comfortable, and they look great under a show coat. It's a seamless look," Iwasaki described.

The back-to-back NCEA National Champion SMU Mustangs. Photo by Keagan Phillips Photography

Iwasaki has long been known for her specialized abilities as a catch rider, and that experience has undoubtedly set her up for success in an NCEA program, where riders draw their mounts at random at the start of each competition. 

It's a skill that will continue to benefit her throughout her riding career. Iwasaki does plan to take the leap to ride professionally after graduating, but she's not in a hurry. She's very much enjoying this part of her journey.

"Riding on a team is a lot different than riding for yourself," she said. "It's a different kind of pressure, and I'll take this experience away with me for a long time.

"I have two more years of college, and I'm excited for that," she added. "It's been one of the most amazing experiences to go to college, to get a good education and be on a team and feel that aspect of this [sport]."

Look for Augusta Iwasaki—and Essex Classics—on the road this summer at venues in Lexington, KY; Devon, PA; and Traverse City, MI, as well as next NCEA season with the SMU Mustangs.

To place an order for an Essex Classics show shirt with custom embroidery or a custom trim, visit Essex


bottom of page