Realizing the Dream – to Ride with the Best of the Best!!
Submitted by Donna Clark, coach
The Manchester High School Equestrian team finished our regular equestrian season as an undefeated team in District competition. We headed off to the Regional competition knowing that we would now be facing a more difficult level of competition and many more riders in our classes. We practiced hard, we held our breath, and as the
points began to add up, smiles began lighting up our faces!
One of the most difficult transitions between the District meet and the Regional meet is how each event is judged. At District meets, each riding class begins as a “rail” class. All the horses in a class are entered into the arena and asked simultaneously to walk, trot, canter, turn, back, etc. At Regionals, each horse is called singly into the arena where the horse is expected to do a pattern, while being evaluated by two judges.
Now, alone in the arena, each sequence of the pattern, changing of leads, changing of diagonals, turns, serpentines, circles, halts, backing, trotting, loping etc. is not only memorized by the rider, but given scores. After all the riders have showcased their abilities, there is a call back for the rail class. Now, all the horses will be given commands for the riders to execute while riding around the arena. Judges are looking at equitation throughout these two phases – Where are the riders legs – correct position? Are they still? Hands – proper position? Quiet? Back straight? Eyes – looking forward? Reins – too tight? too loose?
Early in the competition, as the first scores were compiled, we found ourselves in second place. We knew the reputation of Goodrich, the team in first place. We’ve seen them at Regionals before and knew they were State Reserve Champions last year. Our focus was to stay in second place, taking home a reserve championship Regional trophy and an invitation to compete in the State Finals. Over the course of two days we remained in second place and, in fact, began creeping up on Goodrich. We ended Regionals with 396 points and in second place, handily beating six other schools.
Congratulations to Junior Ellie Haist, our high point rider for the weekend, and Senior Claudia Walz with the second highest number of points.
There will be eight schools, besides Goodrich, competing in our Division “B” State Finals. Other teams in Division “B” include: Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, Bridgman, Bullock Creek High School, Caro, Dexter, Grand Haven, Ludington and Zeeland West. Once again, we will be judged beginning with more patterns, more difficult patterns, and hoping to be invited back for the rail class to earn points for our team. Once again, we are practicing hard, memorizing our patterns, keeping our horses in good physical condition, and packing our trailers.
We are so excited. We are real champions. We will compete with the best and do our best. The total cost to send the team to the four-day show is expected to be $3,500 to $4,000. Without any help, this cost must be paid by the parents of the riders. Anyone wishing to help sponsor our dream, we would really appreciate financial assistance. Checks can be made out to “Manchester High School Equestrian Team” and can be dropped off at the high school.
If driving up to Midland for our four days of competition won’t fit into your schedule but you’d like to see the competition go to www.miha.org Click on State Championship, Live Video Streaming. You can also check out Live Scores.