by Lauren Nix
When 13-year-old Emily Adams joined a mounted equestrian drill team at River Run Farms two years ago, she “found her calling,” her mother, Kelly Adams said.
Equestrian drill teams perform a coordinated routine to music where riders and horses must be trained in the moves. “It is definitely a team sport as each member has to be supportive and help each other,” Kelly Adams said. “They have to work together in order for the team to be the best they can be.”
This year teams from River Run Farms on Highway 119 competed in the first mounted drill team competition in the state of Alabama at the Montgomery State Fair. The teams competed in Chatsworth, Ga. the previous two years because no drill team competition existed in Alabama.
Mick Knerr said his two daughters really enjoy the camaraderie of the River Run Farms teams. “It’s really the only way in this sport that you can get a team together and perform,” he said. “The kids really love it.”
His oldest daughter Kathryn, 12, has been riding for four years and on River Run’s drill team since it started two years ago. She says her favorite part is being able to work as a team, and she also enjoys dressing up for theme runs. “Everyone loves watching it, so I love dressing up and putting on a show,” Kathryn said.
Each team typically consists of 12 members that perform routines with their horses in the arena to music. Performances are usually six to seven minutes long, and often have a theme.
The teams are judged on different aspects, including how they stay together, how in sync they are and how their horses perform for them during the routine. The teams practice and perform their drill team routines from Labor Day weekend until the next show season starts in March.
All teams must have even numbers because they line up across the arena from each other and do patterns during the routine. This type of riding requires a lot of practice to ensure that horses do not collide and riders do not fall off.
Two teams did a theme run at the Montgomery competition where they dressed up in costumes. Some past themes include 101 Dalmatians, firemen and the Ghosts of River Run.
The teams performed at the Alabama Horse Show in Montgomery in January where they carried in the opening flags and performed their routines, and they have been asked to perform at the show again this coming January.
River Run Farms has four teams that compete in the mounted drill team competitions: the River Run Rampage, the River Run Rapids, the River Run Runaways and the River Run Renegades.
The River Run Rampage, or Team A, is made up of 12 experienced riders who perform fast-paced routines. They performed two routines and placed first place in one and second place in the other.
The River Run Rapids, or Team B, consists of 12 riders who have been riding for two years or less. This team competed in two events and received first place in both.
The River Run Runaways, or the Bareback team, consists of ten advanced riders who perform fast paced routines without saddles. This team competed in two events and placed second in one and first in the other.
The River Run Renegades, or the Adult Quad team, competed in one event and received first place.
For more information on River Run Farms visit their website at http://www.riverrunfarms.wetpaint.com or search for River Run Farms on Facebook.