By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– As West Salem’s Alyssa Goertzen exited the arena with her miniature horse, Cascade’s Emily Dixon and her horse Mary walked on in for the Driving part of the OHSET District Meet Thursday afternoon.
They stopped about 10 yards into the arena, and as the gate was being locked up behind them, Dixon’s horse was being inspected before she went out to the course around her.
It was quiet though roughly two dozen people were along the metal fencing watching Dixon and Mary as they got the ok to go around the course marked by cones and placeholders for riders and their miniatures to tackle during their five minute time-frame.
“It’s really hard because it’s just not us doing it, it’s also the horse and we don’t always know how the horse is going to react,” starts Dixon. “I just like to focus on the horse and not focus on anything around me because I really have to focus on my mini-values because she likes to do her own thing.” 46
Nerves for the rider and the horse were in the air as they complete the first part of the course and Dixon turns Mary around and have the 17-year-old horse backpedal to the two orange cones behind them that they had to get to.
The mental and physical focus was there as they succeeded and left the station to turn left towards the back of the arena, away from the entrance, before turning around and finishing the course and their performance by the gate they came in at to applause from the crowd.
“Honestly I think today was one of my best because this is my first year I used this mini and she took a four-year break and she’s 17 I think, 18 so she’s kind of older and a little stubborn,” smiled and laughed Dixon about her horse as Dixon finished tied for fourth with West Salem’s Goertzen.
Dixon will be taking part in Drill on Saturday with the Cascade High School team and doing some Gaming events Sunday for the Cougars Equestrian Team. In those events however, they use normal-size horses instead of miniature horses.
As for what’s harder to deal with, miniature horse in a event like Driving or a normal, larger horse in a event like Gaming, Dixon thinks that the miniature horses are harder compare to their larger counterparts.
“For this one, this one is a little harder I say than some of the gaming events because many mini-horses tend to have more attitude and that can be a problem sometimes and they’re kind of more unpredictable than bigger horses,” starts Dixon. “And since we’re on a cart, we’re not actually on them so that can be harder for some people to control.”