Equestrian Team Rides for the First Time
December 17, 2014
On November 1st, Prep became the first high school in the state to institute an equestrian team. Prep will compete in zone four of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, (IEA). They will go up against teams from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. All the students were invited to sign up no matter their experience level.
Providence Hill Farms, a barn in Flora, is hosting the team by offering their services and facilities. They have provided the horses, equipment, and trainers that are necessary for the new team. Leading the riders is head coach Leah Mitchell, who is an assistant coach for Mississippi College’s equestrian team.
All the members of the team were required to take a skill evaluation lesson at the beginning of the season. Each member was then placed into one of the six divisions based on his/her skill level. There are three to four students in each division, so that every rider is taking lessons with others at his/her same level.
Riders must go to at least three shows each semester in order to remain on the team and as a member of IEA. Shows are typically on the weekends. If it happens to be a two day event, then each day counts as one individual show.
If the team is able to take their own horses to the show, Coach Mitchell will assign each rider to a horse for the weekend. The afternoon before, the riders will go to Providence Farms and prepare for the show. Each rider is responsible for his/her assigned horse. This includes getting the horse ready, packing, loading their equipment in the trailer, and getting their horse to the show ground.
To get their horse ready, riders have to bathe the horses, clip their ears and legs, and pull their mane. Pulling a mane means taking the longer parts of the mane and pulling it out so that the ends of the mane makes a straight line. The riders must also pack the horses’ food for the night and next morning, water buckets, hay, brushes to groom them, and their tack.
Their tack is the horse’s bridle, martingale, girth, saddle, clean saddle pads, and polo wraps if needed. Once the riders have everything they need packed into boxes, they put everything into the trailer.
At the shows, individual riders accumulate points for each category or class you win. Depending on how well each rider on the team does in the different classes, the team will gain points. The team with the most points at the end of the show is the winner of that show.
The equestrian team has had two show since the start of their season with the most recent one on November 16th in Birmingham, Alabama. Senior Claire McDowell said, “The show was a lot of fun because it was my first time to compete with this team and against other schools in zone four.”