Sara Swanson

Manchester Equestrian Team places 5th in State Finals

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Submitted by Donna Clark

On Thursday, October 12 around 5 am, a convoy of campers and horse trailers pulled out of Manchester heading to the Midland County Fairgrounds for the 2017 MIHA State Championships. Ten teams in each Division – A, B, C, and D –were coming from all around our state to compete. By 1 pm, campers were set up, trailers emptied and horses and riders standing in line ready to give it their best. Competition went on until 8:30 pm, followed by opening ceremonies, where each team was recognized for its achievements. Shortly afterward, horses were put to bed and alarms set for the second day of competition.

Friday at 5 am, alarms began to go off, horses were fed, lunged, ridden and riders began getting themselves ready and horses tacked up. Those riding were again waiting in line at 8 am for their turn. Friday’s weather was the best for riding, mild temperatures and even the sun was peeking out of the clouds from time to time. 15 hours later, horses, riders and parents were ready for another short night of sleep.

By Saturday, the winds started howling and the rain created cris-crossing mud paths across the fairgrounds. Parents were vying for small spaces along the rail of the outside arena where the overhang of the roof would keep them half dry. Others had plastic bags or rain gear and sat through the classes on the outside bleachers. No umbrellas are allowed at a horse show. The wind and rain on the metal roofs made it difficult to hear any announcements. We survived and by the end of another 15 hour day, the results were “in the books.”

Sunday morning brought another deluge of rain and more wind. After classes were done, we ended our morning with the closing ceremonies, announcements of all the team placings and presentations of awards. Our final score placed us 5th out of 10. We are very proud of our showing. These horses and riders are the best in the state and we found out how competitive we really are. We were definitely in our element. We deserved to be showing against these other teams.

We could spend a lot of time dwelling over “what ifs” and I’m sure our team members have. What if my horse hadn’t moved his foot out of the pivot? What if I hadn’t gotten those two showmanship patterns confused? What if my bridle hadn’t broken 5 minutes before my class? What if I had been ready earlier for my class? What if my horse hadn’t broken out in hives? What if my horse hadn’t broken his gait in the serpentine part of the pattern? Human error is only part of what a performance like this entails; horse error is another contributing factor. It’s also true that you may have had a perfect pattern, but so did 18 of the other 24 riders, and only 10 will be placed.

Our team did great! High point rider was Ellie Haist and our second place point earner was Bailey Elliott. The riders listed below placed 1st (State Champion) or 2nd (Reserve State Champion) in the listed events. A special note of congratulations goes to:

Alex Clark, 1st Saddle Seat Fitting and Showing
Bailey Elliott, 1st Speed & Action, 2nd Speed & Action, 2nd Two Person Relay
Tyler Elliot, 1st Flag Race, 2nd Cloverleaf Race, 2nd Two Person Relay
Ellie Haist, Unanimous 1st Trail, Unanimous 2nd Hunt Seat Bareback
Carli Kerns, 1st Hunt Seat Fitting and Showing

Once again we proved that every member of our team is valuable. We showed versatility, commitment, and teamwork. Thank you to the Manchester community and the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported us financially. This week has been one of recuperation for our coaches, riders, parents, and horses. One mom recorded over eight miles of walking in just one day of this four day event!

State Finals Division “B” Standings
1. Ludington 286
2. Bullock Creek 259
3. Goodrich 228
4. Grand Haven 222
5. Manchester 191
6. Bridgman 178
7. Zeeland West 154
8. Caro 151
9. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 119
10. Dexter 81

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