By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– Having already qualified to State in In-Hand Trail, North Salem’s Emily Dixon took full advantage of Saturday’s Obstacle Course with Fancy as practice entering the Big Show in May at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond Mother’s Day Weekend.
“We’ve been doing very good. She’s a pro at it so that helps a lot. This is my second-year doing this, but she’s doing this for 15-years or so. She’s 20 and she’s still going,” laughed Dixon about Fancy, a miniature horse. “For In-Hand, knowing that I’m going to State already, this is just more of an intense practice.”
Around the pattern the features lateral movement, weaving through cones, unlocking and locking a roped fence, going through a pattern on the ground after trotting around the logged pattern before finishing with stepping on a wooden board and stopping for a second before finishing the course.
This event on Saturday and Driving, the other event Dixon did on Friday, don’t require a ‘fast’ time like some of the Gaming events like barrels or weaving drills like pole bending. No, events like In-Hand Trail and Driving require efficiency and attention to detail to get the highest score possible.
But the trick will be now, with State coming up, is learning a new pattern. A pattern that they will not get until about two weeks until the State Meet when the other Districts in the State wrap-up their final meets.
“It’s going to be really crucial to go over the patterns because they’re so many different little things. You got to walk, you got to run with them. Then you got to make sure that they’re not going to freak out in the pattern at all because they are certain things that can freak them out.
“There’s a bridge you have to walk over and there’s some horses that won’t do that. They freak out about it. (Fancy) really good about it, but there’s also different turns wither it’s a haunch-turn or a forehand-turn.”
A forehand-turn is when they pivot on the inside front hoof to the pattern, a haunch-turn is a pivot the back-end outside hoof to the pattern.
OHSET, or Equestrian, has been hit-and-miss at North Salem over the past few years, having individual athletes here and there with West Salem having the strongest team in town as the athlete with the horse and the athlete with the person must work as one as a doubles team would in Tennis.
But for the Viking Senior, whose been at Cascade the past two years and went to State as a Junior in the Team Versatility and In-Hand Obstacle Relay events for the Cougars, being able to bring the sport to the NS brings another sport to the spectrum for the student body.
“Going for North, I like it a lot because a lot of kids at North don’t know what OHSET is. So I get to tell kids in school about horses and what I do and different things you could do with them. It just opens people’s minds more of all that is out there for people to do,” said Dixon, who also plays softball team.
Down to the final meet, Dixon did do enough to qualify for State in the Driving event. Like In-Hand Trail, Driving involves a Miniature Horse where she uses Mary, another 20-year old Miniature Horse.
Dixon said that it’s easier to use Miniature Horses in events like this because they’re easier to control in the tight turns and the patterns that both events require of the two athletes. But qualifying for State in Driving as well after finishing fourth in Districts last year was a pleasant surprise.
“I honestly didn’t expect to go to State for Driving. Like (Friday), I took it easy and let all my worries aside and it just kind of helped me at the end because it got me third,” said Dixon.
Dixon will be using Mary again for Driving and Fancy for In-Hand in Redmon in May.
On Sunday Dixon competed in Figure 8’s using a full-size horse, finishing with a 26.776 time while getting a 11.01 time in the Keyhole Event.