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If the Canby equestrian team was feeling rusty in its first organized competition in more than a year, the Cougar riders certainly didn’t show it — charging to victory in a half-dozen events at the first district meet last month.
Unlike the other winter sports, which are governed by the OSAA, the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams (OHSET) oversee the competitions for Canby.
OHSET is special as they provide varsity recognition to the athletes, unlike other equine events in other states.
This meant when Canby placed well at the first North Valley District Meet, held in January, OHSET was watching. The top finishers in each meet have a chance to qualify for the year-end OHSET championships, held in May.
The district meet was the first for the team in nearly two years after the 2020-21 campaign was canceled due to Covid-19.
“It is so great to be able to participate in OHSET again,” head coach Kristen Schweitzer told the Current. “The athletes really missed it last year and were so happy to be back at it! Weekly practices are going great, and everyone is stepping out of their comfort zone and trying new events.”
Per OHSET rules, athletes can try up to five individual events out of the 19 available. This gives Canby athletes and their horses a chance to test out different events, ranging from barrels to showmanship.
Schools from all over the state gathered to compete at the first meet last month. Unlike the Three Rivers League in OSAA, Canby’s opponents in the North Valley District range from cities like McMinnville to smaller towns like Amity and Dallas.
Against that heavy competition, Canby’s horsewomen won six events. Sadie Schweitzer took first in dressage, in-hand trail went to Hailey Magenheimer, Cloie Surgeon won her hunt seat over fences competition and pole bending went to Madison Wheeler.
For the team events, the in-hand obstacle relay was won by Wheeler, Schweitzer, Magenheimer and Hannah Smith. That same quartet also captured the team versatility competition.
The team of Brooke Jonas, Wheeler, Madi Bigej and Schweitzer won Canadian flag race, and the freestyle fours drill team was won by Wheeler, Magenheimer, Bigej and Schweitzer.
Overall, Canby placed first, winning the first of three district meets. Schweitzer was pleased with the team’s performance and versatility and has been proud of the way her team has started the year.
“This group of athletes is so encouraging to everyone,” Schweitzer said. “They all get along great and are so supportive. Many, if not all, athletes are trying events new to them which is so great to see them stepping out of their comfort zone.”
The second of three district meets is right around the corner, taking place on March 3.
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