Teens earn national equestrian honors
Feb. 14, 2011
Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Debbie Gardner
Assistant Managing Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW Two local teens can add the title "national champion" to their list of high school accomplishments.
Melanie Cormier and Kristi Hinchey, both 17 and seniors at East Longmeadow High School, will be recognized for their equestrian expertise at the 2011 Appaloosa Youth World's Horse Show in Tulsa, Okla., in July.
Cormier will be recognized by the Appaloosa Horse Club of Moscow, Ind., as National Champion in the Youth Saddle Seat Equitation 18 and under and Reserve National Champion in Youth Western Riding 18 and under.
Hinchey will be recognized for attaining the rank of National Champion in Youth 14 to 18 Keyhole a timed precision race on a keyhole shaped circuit and Reserve National Champion in the Youth 14 to 18 Figure 8 Stake Race.
Both girls will receive their awards during the event's banquet.
"I'm excited . we're going to be out there for two-and-a-half weeks," said Cormier, who sat on her first horse a wedding gift to her mother at a mere five days old. "It's the national show, the top horses from across the country will be there."
She explained that, though the awards given at the banquet will be for achievements during the 2010 riding year, the show itself would be a 2011 competition.
"They just have the awards banquet at nationals because that's when everyone will be together," Hinchey said.
Hinchey then explained that awards in riding are based on accumulated points, with the number of points a horse and rider earn at any given show dependent upon a number of factors.
"Points are based on a lot of things [including] how many horses are in a show and the number of judges there are at a show," Hinchey said. "First place [at a show] gets a set number of points based on the number of horses in a class."
The type of seat a rider shows Hunter, Western or Saddle is also evaluated according to set standards, Cormier explained.
"There's differences between the way the horse moves, how you sit . everything is different," she said.
The girls' mounts also are judged on their performance. Cormier's primary horse, an Appaloosa named Mickey, has earned Register of Merit awards in the Western Trail, Western Riding and Hunter under Saddle classifications.
Hinchey's horses an all-around Appaloosa named Chip and an Appaloosa games horse named JJ have also received Register of Merit awards in multiple classes, with JJ receiving Register of Merit in the Hunter under Saddle class.
Both Cormier and Hinchey plan to take their mounts to nationals this summer a 36-hour trip under the watchful eye of their horses' trainers.
To reach this level of horsemanship requires commitment Cormier has been showing horses since she was 5, Hinchey since she was 13 with many hours devoted to weekly practice and animal care. This, of course, is in addition to schoolwork both are also honors society members and other activities.
Cormier is fortunate, her family has horses on their land in East Longmeadow, making her daily hour-long practice sessions convenient. Hinchey travels an hour each way five to six times per week to work with her mounts.
College decisions both hope to attend a school with an equestrian team are forefront in each girl's mind right now. So is the horse show circuit.
Their first competition of the 2011 season is March 30 in Indiana.