By definition “An equestrian drill team is a group of people on horseback doing intricate maneuvers to music. Equestrian drill teams have been around forever, probably dating back to when horses first started being ridden,” says Pam Bonner, board member of the United States Equestrian Drill Team Association. “It’s a wonderful group involvement with team spirit.”
Lisa Street, the Equestrian Instructor at the Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Northeast Ohio, agrees. She teaches the Equine Management Program there and this year has started an equestrian drill team. The team has a goal of competing this coming May 21st in Alexandria , Kentucky at a USEDA drill team event .
The drill team idea at the school was sparked by a mounted police officer who was a guest teacher. As the instructor of the Equine Program, Lisa found all aspects of the drill to be beneficial to the program and students.
“I have eight students riding and planning to compete with four horses that they share. They will be competing as youth exhibitors in a quad drill. The kids are excited and I’m excited for them!”
Becoming a unified drill team takes hours and hours of practice, but the students are willing and eager, and so is Lisa. Not only do the equestrian students become a team, the horses become a team. Riders depend on one another in a drill team performance and that is a powerful lesson in itself. “The students involved are becoming very good horsemen,” Lisa says. “The drill team teaches them all about rating their horse, body alignment of the horse, cadence, and teamwork.”
Teamwork is a must to be a successful drill team and these high school students are learning that very well through drill participation. In many areas of the equine competition, individuals compete with just their horse against other riders, but drill requires a team
“Each rider not only must perform well on their horse, but also is required to match their horse’s cadence and rhythm to the other team members. The students also learned that they may not always ride their favorite horse, but may ride the horse that best suits them for the drill team.”
As a rule, horses of the same breed and general appearance are used in drill teams. They don’t have to be the same color, but they do need to be similar in size and gait action for obvious reasons. They are to move as one; they are to exhibit a formidable presence. A reliably quiet but proud breed of horse makes for a good drill-team mount.
“The students were involved with the selection process as to which type of horse would work best for our drill team,” Lisa says. “We are riding American Quarter Horses, all of which are reining bred. American Quarter Horses love having a job that is both physically and mentally challenging. To ride a drill pattern, the rider must have complete communication with their horse and have control of the horse’s body in regards to body alignment, bend, rate and rhythm.”
May 21st is less than two months away. The equestrian students and the horses at Trumbull Career & Technical Center have a lot of hard work to do between now and then, but they are up for the challenge. Lisa smiles and nods. “This group of horses is giving my students a way to set and reach goals and accomplish their dreams.”