Equestrian team saddles up for season

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

February 25, 2006

With winter’s cold air nipping at their fingertips, noses and toes, the girls of the Hood River Valley Equestrian Club have been training since December for their competitive season, which starts this weekend in Redmond. In all, seven Hood River Valley High School girls make up the team, which is considered a club at the high school.

The girls compete in the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams’ (OHSET) Central District, which consists of teams from The Dalles, Dufur, Pendleton, Lakeview, Burns, LaPine, Redmond, Bend, Sisters, Sherman/Moro and Crook County/Prineville. In all, about 155 participants make up the district this season.

Team members can choose to compete in a variety of different classes of riding. This season, the Hood River girls have signed up to ride English and Western equitation, trail, working rancher, IHOR (In Hand Obstacle Relay), working pairs, team flags, barrels, keyhole, poles, BiRangle, team penning and the figure-8.

The team, coached and advised by Jan Wallace, practices for these events at different arenas in the area. Most often they ride at the Wy’east facility in Odell, but occasionally they travel to the Hood River Saddle Club or to Goldendale to use larger arenas with more room to run.

“It’s extremely time-consuming for the girls and for their families,” Wallace said. “Most of them ride a few hours a day, six or seven days a week, and some have been traveling to barrel races on the weekends to get their horses conditioned and improve their times. It’s a way for the girls to compete and letter in a sport when they might never be able to otherwise.”

Team members receive a high school letter if they qualify for state.

The team started in 1999 with only a few girls. And according to Wallace, numbers have been up and down since then. This season four of the seven girls are new to the sport. Of the three returning riders, junior Alex Von Lubken is the only to ride at last year’s state competition, where she finished third in showmanship (out of about 500) and fourth in stockseat.

Wallace predicts that this year’s team will be strongest in the barrels and the hunt seat and stock seat equitation.

“In the past,

we have been a very successful team,” Wallace commented. “I’m confident that we will remain on the top and qualify several girls for state again … I’m more excited than ever. The girls have taken a big step up this year and they are showing a lot of hard work and dedication.”

Each of the team’s meets are in Redmond, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. The state competition will be at Central Point this year, from May 18-21.

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