Madras OHSET ready to ride


First ever regional meet this weekend in Redmond

by: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Janna Davis practices Canadian Flag drill last week in preparation for this weekend's Pacific Northwest Invitational Championships in Redmond.When Taylir Wills gets ready to make yet another run this weekend on her horse, Idgy, she really doesn’t know what to expect. Although Wills, a student at Culver High, and Idgy have made hundreds of runs through an equestrian event called Canadian Flags, this weekend will offer up something a little different.

“I’m nervous, this is my first year in OHSET, so to make it to regionals, it’s really exciting,” Wills said. “I’m definitely nervous, but I just want to have fun.”

Wills and some of her teammates on the Madras Oregon High School Equestrian Team will take part in the first ever Pacific Northwest Invitational this weekend in Redmond. The event, which pits equestrian teams from Oregon against those from Washington, will be held at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.

“I’m interested to see how they ride,” Wills said. “I want to see if their technique is different than ours.”

It is the first time teams from the neighboring states will compete against each other. While the event is new, there has always been some curiosity, at least from the Oregon side, on other teams from other states.

“I think it is to see how each state does it,” Madras OHSET coach Amber White said. “Washington does do the same events, but they do them differently than Oregon does.”

by: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Taylir Wills urges her horse toward the finish line after picking up a flag.This weekend, everyone will play by Oregon’s rules, although the path to get to the regional meet was the same in each state.

The top five placers in the team and individual events from the respective state meets qualified for the regional meet. The plan is to have each state host the event in years to come, and hopefully branch out to include competitors from Idaho, Montana and California.

Both Oregon and Washington have more than 1,000 riders that compete, so bringing the top 10 together for a meet has those competing ready to see what the other has to offer.

Wills will be part of a four-woman team in Canadian Flag. Joining her are Janna Davis, Angelica Metteer and Riata Green. Lakota Jensen is an alternate on the team.

Jacob Palin is the lone Madras team member to compete in an individual event, racing in individual flags.

In Canadian Flags, a four-member team takes turns riding down to an area where there are four flags. Each member must round the flags and pull one up and bring it across the start/finish line before the next members goes. It is all about timing and keeping from knocking over the remaining flags.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids to see how other teams are competing,” White said. “What’s their competition going to be like next year.”

The equestrian team sport is relatively new at the high school level, White said. And it is quite expensive to compete. Not counting the cost of keeping and training a horse, the kids must pay entry fees to compete in state and regional events.

There is also the cost of travel and transporting animals.

But all of that aside, the sport is quickly catching on around the country.

“I don’t think that OHSET is even 10 years old yet,” Nicole Adams, an assistant Madras coach said. “I am not sure how it came about (if Washington started before Oregon or vice versa), but I do know that the two states have really pushed for (having teams).”

While the kids are no strangers to competition, this event does offer some different perspectives on just how to approach it. Do they take the attitude of win no matter what or work more on having fun and enjoying the experience.

White said she emphasizes working as a team and having fun. She wants them to do well, but is more proud when the team shows its sportsmanship.

“All the good stuff comes together as they keep practicing,” White said. “The speed, the accuracy will all come. We push them, but you can only push them so far. Ultimately, it’s up to them.”

That has been tough to do since school broke for the summer. Kids are spread out all over the place on vacations or working summer jobs, so getting four of them together to work on timing in Canadian Flags has been tough.

Still, Wills and her teammates are ready to go.

“We have made it beyond (state) where we wanted to go,” she said. “We’re just going to go and we are going to have fun.”