Our State Finals Experience – Manchester

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Courtesy of Donna Clark,  head coach of Manchester Equestrian

A convoy of campers and horse trailers pulled out of Manchester heading to the Midland County Fairgrounds for the 2017 MIHA State Championships Thursday, October 12 around 5:00am. Ten teams in each Division – A,B,C, and D were coming from all around our state to compete. Competition went on until 8:30pm, followed by opening Ceremonies, where each team was recognized for its achievements. Shortly afterward, horses were put to bed and alarms set for the second day of competition.

Friday at 5am horses were fed, lunged, ridden and riders began getting themselves ready and horses tacked up. Competition lasted 15 hours.

By Saturday, the winds started howling and the rain created crisscrossing mud paths across the fairgrounds. Parents were vying for small spaces along the rail of the outside arena where the overhang of the roof would keep them half dry. Others had plastic bags or raingear and sat through the classes on the outside bleachers. No umbrellas allowed at a horse show. The wind and rain on the metal roofs made it difficult to hear any announcements. With the end of another 15 hour day, the results were “in the books”.

On Sunday the Manchester Equestrian Team score put them in fifth place out of 10. “We are very proud of our showing. These horses and riders are the best in the state and we found out how competitive we really are. We were definitely in our element. We deserved to be showing against these other teams,” said

We could spend a lot of time dwelling over “what ifs” and I’m sure our team members have. What if my horse hadn’t moved his foot out of the pivot? What if I hadn’t gotten those two showmanship patterns confused? What if my bridle hadn’t broken five minutes before my class? What if I had been ready earlier for my class? What if my horse hadn’t broken out in hives? What if my horse hadn’t broken his gait in the serpentine part of the pattern? Human error is only part of what a performance like this entails – horse error is another contributing factor. It’s also true that when a rider has a perfect pattern, so did 18 of the other 24 riders, and only 10 will be placed.

High point rider was Ellie Haist and second place point earner was Bailey Elliott. The riders listed below placed first (state champion) or second (reserve state champion) in the listed events. A special note of congratulations goes to : Alex Clark, first Saddle Seat Fitting and Showing; Bailey Elliott, first speed and action, second speed and action, second two person relay; Tyler Elliot, first flag race, second Cloverleaf Race, second two person relay;  Ellie Haist, unanimous first trail, unanimous second hunt seat bareback; and Carli Kerns, first hunt seat fitting and showing.

Thank you to the Manchester Community and the organizations, businesses and individuals who supported the Manchester Equestrian Team financially.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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