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Equestrian team earns reserve state title

Asst. coaches Jacqueline Girradot, Jennifer Fifield, Shannon Trezil, riders Gabi Galley, Nicole Musgrove, (behind) Ian Diedrich, Jenney-Ayn Gill, Rosie Sheppard on Taz, assistant coach Kellie Roth, Mia Phillips, Alex Kline on Harley, (behind) Kylie Reis, Chloe Jones, Lauren Sokoski, Brooke Boger, Coach Dee Shepard and assistant coach Kaitlin Trezi. (click for larger version)
October 23, 2013 - By Liz Shepard

Special to the Leader

While the Wildcats rallied, back-to-back state championship titles weren't in the cards this year.

But the team didn't go home from the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship State Championship empty handed.

The Oxford High School Equestrian Team earned the reserve championship in the MIHA Division A state meet.

The Wildcats came in second place with 257 points; Howell took home the top spot with 373 points.

"Having lost eights riders from the (2012) championship team left us with a lot of openings in specialty classes," said Coach Dee Shepard. "Speed and over fences were especially hit…In short everyone was willing to reach down deep and pullout the extra energy and determination to try something new and become proficient at it."

This was the team's 13th straight trip to the state championship. Equestrian teams compete in several disciplines, from showmanship to jumping to barrel racing. Teams also compete based on size, with A teams the largest with 10 or more riders.

"I feel the team put forth a fantastic effort at the state meet," Shepard said. "Our inexperience at big shows may have contributed to some rookie mistakes that cost us points. The Howell team seemed to be very well prepared with what looked like experienced horses and riders. They were excellent competitors."

Shepard said as soon as the horses were loaded and leaving the Midland Fair Grounds at the end of the state championship competition Oct. 13, plans were already starting for next year.

"We will continue to encourage our riders to pursue showing and riding throughout the year so they are better prepared for next year," she said. "The Oxford coaches all agree we start the new season the last day of states…A positive attitude and high expectations are always a good way to start the season.

"We always set our goals with districts, win that, get to regionals, win that and move on to states. And of course winning states is the ultimate goal."

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