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HORSING AROUND

Scappoose equestrian team competing well
by: Submitted By Stalknaler Photography BARREL RACING–Scappoose’s Jenny Holdner rounds a barrel during equestrian team district competition in McMinnville. She’s riding her horse Mo (Fancy Molasses). Scappoose placed second in the first two district meets.

High school equestrian competition is a fun sport, an expensive sport, a sport that requires a lot of dedication and one Scappoose High has had a good deal of success in over the past 10 years.

Donna Espelien is the team's only coach for the past decade and she's had large numbers and small numbers out for the team.

Espelien really likes the sport; she's been coaching it since her kids, Tryn and Trigg, were in high school. They've long since graduated, but Espelien has continued with the team. She is also a former soccer coach at the high school.

'High school equestrian (team) is really awesome and a lot more fun than other horse-type events. It's very diversified,' she said.

There's no question the team has had success, though. They won four state championships and four district titles during the past 10 years.

The equestrian competition is organized into district with mini-school, small, medium and large school divisions. Unlike other sports, the number of athletes on a team, rather than actual school population determines which division a team is in.

With just six athletes competing this year, Scappoose is in the small school division. They've had as many as 15 riders on the team in past years and competed in the large school division. The Northwest Division they compete in now has 16-17 schools each year, including Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Southridge.

There are three district competitions during the season, and schools qualify from those for the state tournament. The Indians have also won four district titles.

Scappoose was at McMinnville last weekend for their second district meet. The team took second in the first competition, and was again second in their division on Saturday.

Events are timed or include equitation (performance events) such as dressage, jumping, steer daubing, bell racing, gaming events-barrel and poles racing, drills and team penning. Poles is like a slalom ski event, Espelien explained. Penning involves three riders sorting a cow out of a herd of 24. There are 170-200 horses and their riders at each district competition.

This year the team is made up of all girls, but there have been a number of boys participating in the past. There are no seniors on the team this season, and Espelien said they have some eighth-graders coming next year.

This year's team includes juniors Christine Mapes and Jenny Holdner, sophomores Savannah Hermes and Desiree Stover, and freshmen Abby Kessi and Emily Holdner.

The economy may have cut a bit into the turnout for the team this year, the coach said. The cost of boarding horses and transporting them to events is expensive. However, the high school competition is much less expensive than other horse competitions-only a single entrance fee is paid, rather than a charge per event. The type of horses used in the competition varies-from English dressage to American quarter horses.

'It's a lot of fun. The kids really enjoy it,' Espelien said.

Highlights of the last district meet included a second in drill and second in team penning. Kessi was second in stock seat and fifth in dressage, while Hermes was second in hunt seat. They also finished well in working pairs. Stover was fifth in working ranch, and in team flags, Mapes, Jenny and Emily Holdner, and Stover took fourth. Hermes was fifth in trails. Mapes had a second in individual flags, while all six took sixth in drill. They were third in team penning.