Riding into Florida

From left to right: Senior Gracie Jennings, Senior Stock Captain Lori Girrbach, and Junior Hunt Captain Madison Austin

Many athletes experience peak performance during their careers, otherwise known as their prime. Adrian College’s Equestrian Team is not only achieving such a pinnacle, but they are also being led by Primes. Coaches Troy and Jody Prime are saddling up and validating their 30 years of experience in the horse show world.

“The positive momentum and strong leadership of our Team Captains will continue to pave the way for our success going forward,” Coach Jody Prime said. Team-first mentality can be traced back to the culture that the coach develops inside and outside of practice. Senior Stock Captain Lori Girrbach said, “As a team captain, I am constantly looking for ways to help each of my teammates grow stronger.”

Michigan State University hosted this year’s regional competition. Polishing up their season and shaping school history, the Adrian College stock team won the Regional Championship Title. Naming them the IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association) High Point Team in Region Six Zone Four.

Seven points ahead of Albion, the Bulldogs had mare-it, even before regionals. Points are accumulated after each time a team competes in their season. All stock teams compete with seven different levels or classes, and every team must assign a pointed rider respectively. The place within each class determines the number of points allocated to the team. As reigning champions, this stock team outscored the Britons by ten points and will advance to the Semi-Finals in Florida.

Pointed riders can also compete individually. On Saturday, March 4, all qualified individuals will prove their horsemanship is the best or second to the best in the region. Receiving first or second place, the rider can advance to Semifinals with Adrian’s pointed riders.

The nine individuals competing at regionals will concentrate on open horsemanship, open reining, level two horsemanship, level two ranch riding, beginner horsemanship, and rookie horsemanship.

Equestrian riders receive unorthodox training compared to other collegiate sports. Every competition, they can be assigned to a horse that they have never ridden. “Over the past four years, I have ridden hundreds of horses through IHSA, and each one has taught me something new,” Girrbach said.

The riders have to be prepared to find themselves in stimulating circumstances, which will define their horsemanship skills. Prime said, “we want our athletes to see the horse not as a means to an end, but as an entity that can teach them important lessons for their lives.”

Being properly prepared, the riders will analyze certain tendencies that the horses show in warmups. This knowledge will bring assurance and ease the mind. “The judges are looking for strong riders that are confident, ride the horse to the best of their ability, and have excellent form on the horse,” said Girrbach.

This team is digesting their achievements and wanting more; they are hungry. At the Semi-Finals, the top four teams advance to IHSA Nationals. Follow along in the coming months to watch this team make history.

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