Genoa equestrian team edges Clay for spot at state meet

J. Patrick Eaken

The Michigan High School Athletic Association sanctions state equestrian meets like any other varsity sport. In Ohio, it is the Ohio Interscholastic Horsemanship Association.
        Last month, Eastwood won a Division I state title over Napoleon and Hopewell-Loudon, and in D-III, Clyde and Notre Dame were battling it out for the championship.
        Genoa qualified for the D-II state meet, but did not take home a championship. In district competition, Genoa and Clay were neck and neck for the right to qualify for state.
        In the first two district meets, Clay won, scoring 52 points to edge Genoa (49) and Fremont (35). In the second meet, Genoa scored 116 points to edge Clay (109) and Fremont (56). It came down to a third meet to see which team would qualify for state.
        “It was a close race to the end against Clay at the third meet, and Genoa only came out on top by a few points,” said Genoa coach Kim Richards.
        “The competition at the state meet was much more challenging, as we are a very speed-oriented team. More participants are needed who can perform in the Showmanship and Trail classes for us to be more competitive.  Regardless, at state we faced two strong teams:  Wauseon and Otsego.”
        Wauseon took first, Otsego second and Genoa third.
        The Genoa equestrian team is comprised of six members. From the Genoa district, the team has juniors Laney Reineck and her horse Silverado, Emma Eck with Ace and Layla, Emma Steinmiller with Pancho and Sami Richards with Flirt and Barbie. There is one sophomore, Sophie Richards with Cash.  Holly Murray, a home-schooled sophomore student from Elmore, rides with Genoa on her horse Sherman. 
        “We are always looking for new members,” Sherman said. “Riders do not have to own their own horse. They may lease one to use for participation on the equestrian team.”
        The competition focuses mostly on Western riding, and Richards allows her team members to participate in the classes they specialize in.
        “Participants do not even have to ride,” Sherman said. “Events such as Showmanship and In-Hand Trail allow the equestrian to demonstrate their abilities to work the horse through a walk-trot pattern over and around obstacles. Riding classes may include putting the horse through paces (walk, trot, canter) around the arena, changing direction, and riding without stirrups at any pace.  
        “The classes for which I hold my breath are ‘Over Fences,’ which involves the horses and riders jumping over raised poles.  At the first meet, the poles usually are raised from the ground two feet, and they are lifted an additional three inches at successive meets.  At the state meet this year, the riders and horses needed to clear poles raised three feet off the ground for a successful ride.”
        Richards said her Genoa team members this year enjoyed the speed classes, which are timed events.
        “At each meet, these include the typical rodeo style barrel racing, and a set of six poles which the horse must be weaved through,” Richards said. 
        Richards said additional events which alternate from one meet to the next are
        • Speed and Control, in which horse and rider begin motionless in a square box, race a distance to weave around three cones, and race back to stop in the box
        • Keyhole, in which the horse-rider pair race down the arena to weave through  "keyhole" pattern of three poles and back; or
        • Flags, where the rider must grab a baton from a bucket on one side of the arena, race to the end around a barrel, back up the other side of the arena to secure the baton in a second bucket. 
        “A final favorite is the Relay Race, in which horse and rider pairs enter opposite ends of the arena, one with a baton,” Richards said. “The rider with the baton races to the other end to hand off to the waiting teammate.  This teammate, once she has the baton races back to the starting point.”


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