Journal on the Road

A Fresh Perspective

April 17, 2010

Former AQHYA exhibitor Lauren Halvorson shares her experiences during her first year of Varsity Equestrian competition.

Nichole Chirico, left, of Napleville, Illinois, is representing Oklahoma State University at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships in Waco. Former AQHYA exhibitor Lauren Halvorson, right, is a redshirt freshman for the team. Lil Ruff McCue, center, was the 2009 most valuable horse.

By Lauren Halvorson

Thursday was the first day of competition!  Luckily, our western team got a “bye” this year and did not have to compete in the first round.  However, there was still a lot of work to do!  We had four horses competing in the horsemanship, “Tiny,” “Chex,” “Moose” and “Isaac.”  This meant we had a lot of grooming, longeing and warming up to do.  Our coach, Larry Sanchez, also had us watch the horsemanship competition to get a feel for how it will be run this week.

Since I was redshirted this year, I am not competing.  Instead, Coach Sanchez has allowed me to be the demo rider for all of our horse shows.  This means that before the horsemanship class begins, I perform the pattern so the riders can have a good idea of where each maneuver needs to be performed.  It has been a very good experience for me to be able to perform on different horses in this setting so I will be prepared for next year when I am actually competing.  Today, I was chosen to be a demo rider for the second round of horsemanship.  I got to ride our school’s horse Tiny.  My pattern went really well, and it was exciting to get to ride in front of the crowd and “show them what I’ve got.”

Our English team won its match against Southern Methodist University, making us eligible for the next round of competition.  After all the athletes were changed and the horses were taken care of, the parents of some of my teammates hosted a cookout for us.  It was a great chance to relax and get some good team bonding in before the next day’s competition!

Be as good as these collegiate athletes! AQHA’s Beginner’s Guide to Showing report shows you how.

On Friday, the mood around the Cowgirl Equestrian Team was a little bit different.  As we loaded the bus at 6:45 a.m.,  everyone was quiet.  However, people were not quiet because of nerves or uncertainty.  Knowing the girls the way I do, I could tell they all had their game faces on.  The quiet confidence in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Once we got to the stalls, the English and western teams separated for meetings.  Coach Sanchez wanted to make sure our heads were in the right place for competition.  However, he did not have to work at that.  The girls all knew their plans for the day and were ready to go!

The first class of the day was the reining.  The riders we had competing against Kansas State were Rachell Shobe, Leah Kuehn, Christy McElreath and Caroline Daniels.  Each and every one of our reiners went in the pen and gave it all they had.  Even though we had good solid rides, we were defeated.  Now, it was up to the horsemanship to save our team’s chance at earning the national championship.  In the horsemanship lineup, we had Nichole Chirico, Marissa Dalton, Suzanne Randolph, and Courtney Whitacre.  Once again, we had great rides but were defeated.  It was sad, but we still had competing to do! We advanced to compete against Auburn in the consolation bracket.