Euqestrian squad heads into meat of their season

Wayne Spinney

For The New Era

Head equestrian coach Christina Cross has an out of the ordinary job. As part of her job she has finally gotten her riders to realize that some of those that she coaches (the horses) can?t answer for themselves. With that information in mind her team is making adjustments and charging toward the season?s conclusion with a solid chance in almost every aspect of team and individual merit.

?Getting my riders to realize that they are part of a team made up of a horse and a rider has been a big part of the fun.? said Cross. ?Fortunately my riders have selected their meet horses and are starting to ride with more confidence and authority.?

Sweet Home athletes have been challenged by their mounts to do a better job at times this year. In return all riders have successfully challenged their mounts to be versatile by performing in events that range from Team Penning and Individuals Flags, to Steer Daubing and Team Drill.

?I?m really hoping for big things from our drill team.? said Cross. ?The entire group is really learning what it is to handle a horse in tough situations.?

The team currently stands in fourth place among smaller schools in the region and continues to be sustained by both solid individual and team performances. Amanda Hilburn, Kacee Nunes and Amanda Swanson are all in the Top-20 for Individual High Points. Both Swanson in Individual Flags, and Nunes in Keyhole recently took fourth place in one of their specialties.

The team had an opportunity to see how fiery Coach Cross could be on Saturday after they finished their Team Drill event. An accomplished rider and judge by her own rights, Cross was frustrated by the team falling a mere six points shy of taking second place overall in the event.

?I know the sport is changing and many times the rules are somewhere between professional and amateur standards,? said Cross. ?What I saw out there was a first rate performance by our team, obviously the judges didn?t see it that way and gave us something to shoot for next time.?

The event was recently held at the Fairgrounds in Salem and involved some twenty-five teams from the Mid-Valley area. With a third meet around the corner (April 30, May 1 and 2nd) in the same place, riders and horses are working as teammates with all eyes looking to make a move to the top.