By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– There was some fear entering the third and final that the combination of Honey and Santiam’s Hannah Fencl won’t be able to run Barrels and Keyhole Sunday afternoon at the Linn County Fairgrounds.
Honey, a 15-year-old horse, developed an abscess on one of her hooves that sidelines the athlete for five days leading up to the District Meet.
In a sport like Equestrian, in the OHSET realm, points matter. You got to place in two of the three events or hope you are in the Top 10-percent in a large field. If the field is 40 people deep, four qualify. 50 people, five qualify and so on.
And with Honey overcoming her anxiety, the Wolverines her horse finished the Barrels second in 15.56 seconds Saturday to seal the top spot in the district to help punch her ticket to the State Meet in Redmond in May. A great turnaround as the Senior had worked hard the last three-years with Honey on the horse’s anxiety in the arena.
“Last year was definitely a tough one to say the least. Me and my horse have came a long way. When I first got her, she got major anxiety and she was a mess,” said Fencl. “So this year has been rewarding to see how far she’s come.”
Rollyn Betts and Fencl hit the reset button with Honey and rebuilt the horse from the bottom up. Working on her confidence for these pressure situations and it paid off with the biggest stage ahead
“He’s been the most help through all of this. Just taking her back to basics and we teach her that you don’t have to be afraid to run and we want you to enjoy what you are doing,” Fencl said of Betts. “When we first got her, she was scared out of her mind and she went out there and now she goes out there and now it’s, ‘I know what I’m doing. I’m confident’. Just taking her back to basics and just giving her more confidence is what our tactic is.”
Sunday was the first day back for Honey after the appearance of the abscess on Wednesday. They did everything leading up to Sunday to help Honey heal up for a possible run.
During the barrels run, the duo suffered a minor hiccup mid-run, but recovered to finish behind Alliana West of Scio.
“I won’t say surprising, after the trip I was like, ‘oh crap we lost it’. But she hustle back and I’m proud of her,” said Fencl.
After some rest after the sprint, it was time for the challenging keyhole event to close out the District meet. The Fencl-Honey combination were in and out in 7.64 time that helped the duo qualify for the State Meet.
Fencl’s teammate Emma Ferguson-Gillaspy ran a 14.809 in the Figure 8’s, a 21.949 in the Barrels, 17.77 in the Indy Flags and 34.479 in pole bending. Fencl got 11.669 in the Figure 8’s and 24.659 in pole bending.