Equestrian Drill Teams

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Equestrian Drill Teams

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    04-04-2013, 12:37 PM
Equestrian Drill Teams

Haven't seen anyone talk about these yet. I have been on a drill team for the last three years. Not something that is exactly 'my type,' but I love it now! I am in Missouri, and would like to start one of my own. I know the hard work and guts that it takes, along with time and horses and money- my biggest problem that I am running into is finding the girls to do it! Has anyone else ever been on a drill team before? What did you think about it?
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    04-04-2013, 12:45 PM
The most successful drill teams are those with members who board at the same barn and have access to a decent sized arena to use. It's the easiest way to routinely practice.
In the meantime, if you can, train your horse to accept other horses close to him. We retired from CW Reenacting after 26 years (2011.) We got our best training from a man named, Carl Luthen. He was a Vet from Springfield, IL, and his group was the Illinois 7th Cavalry. He had over 100 members and ran an open--his group didn't allow women, you see--Spring warmup every year. Our small, 6 person unit went there twice. We did single file, 2's, 4's, wheels, dismount and fight on foot, among other exercises.
When you "dress" with another rider your stirrups need to be touching, and your horse HAS to behave. Riding at the same gait is much less important and comes with practice.
I taught mine to behave by riding in pairs and I would ride the more aggressive horse and carry a Dressage length whip. If my horse would pin ears or try to kick I would turn the haunches out by smacking the flank and ride sideways for several strides. It nipped that bad habit, and kicking under saddle is a very dangerous habit in drill team training.
Also, you MUST be able to ride with one full horse length in between the back of one horse and the front of the next, for obvious safety reasons.
Good luck!! If we lived closer I'd help you train. =D
    04-04-2013, 12:58 PM
Green Broke
Subbing so I can answer later
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    04-04-2013, 09:51 PM
Green Broke
Much easier to post on a computer;)

I rode on the Freedom Riders Equestrian Drill Team for 5-6 years. We went to countless rodeos and parades, along with many drill competitions held all over Oklahoma. We also preformed at the AQHA World Show and the NRHA Futurity here in OKC two years in a row. I loved every minute of it!

I disagree with needing everyone to board at the same barn. We had over thirty five riders at one point, separated into three teams (junior varsity, varsity and flag), all from different towns and counties. We had a set day a week that stayed the same all throughout the year, and a set arena with back up arenas available (indoor arenas during rain/cold weather). It worked out great and the riders and parents were extremely committed.

Getting started: Do you have any horsie friends or apart of an association? Even trail riding groups are a great place to start to find riders. All you need is four to get a drill going! You need to have a meeting with your people to get all logistics figured out: dates, rules, color, NAME, events, fundraising (it's not cheap!), etc. Try to stick to one specific day each week at a local arena. Contact a local round up club, ask for permission to use the arena on set nights, maybe trade for keeping the grounds (mowing and picking up trash). I'm not sure if MO has a drill association, so you might contact the United States Equestrian Drill Association, or even the Oklahoma Equestrian Drill Association for more information:)

Events: Find a rodeo company or stock contractor that has a series of rodeos running near you. Contact them about possibly performing at their rodeo (just FYI, avoid PRCA rodeos, you have to be a member and it is veryyyy expensive). Local open shows and playdays are a good place to get experience under your belt! Also, if your horse(s) have never been around the rodeo scene, NOW is the time to start!! Haul to a few rodeos just to get your horse used to all the scenes, sounds, freaky new horses running like crazy..lol. There is nothing WORSE or more DANGEROUS than throwing an inexperienced horse into a fast moving drill at a rodeo. Scary scary.

Things to keep in mind:
Guide right, except with the person on the left is the one on the rail or swinging the group around.

To fix spacing, DO NOT speed up/down. Move in/out of the circle to fix your spacing. Unless your horse is just obviously moving way faster/slower than the other horses of course:P Always leave the end 30 feet of the arena open at both sides so you have adjustment room, AKA "wells", to fix spacing.

Slow and crisp looks much better than fast and out of control.

Always leave trash talk at home. Around here, teams are judged by sportsmanship. You may win and get the blue ribbon, but if you have a nasty attitude about other teams, you won't get far.

Never ride your horse through the gate unless you are finishing a run. Don't ride back to the trailer to get a drink, dismount your horse and WALK. It won't take long before your horse realizes how to leave and get out of work;)

ALWAYS have whistles. One whistle signals next move, two whistles is stop (your horse will learn this fast, works alot better than whoa, lol!), three whistles is emergency stop. Always have an adult or someone in the crowd with an emergency whistle in case your whistle blower doesn't see someone come off.

Don't choose a dark tack color...purples, hunter greens, blacks etc don't show up well in arena lights.

There are two main styles of competitive drills (unless you are getting more into the whole mounted posse and such, then that's different.)
"Rodeo" style as we call it. Fast pace, lots of galloping and sharp turns. Always a crowd pleaser! Normally not a lot of super intricate moves (not to say they don't have then) as the speed itself is difficult enough. Here is an example by one of my favorite drill teams, the Canadian Valley Rangerettes.

Then there is what my coach calls "West Coast" drills. These are extremely intricate drills, based more on crispness and level of difficulty. It is so hard to come across really good examples of these drills, and when you do HOLY COW are they good!:) They show a lot of control and horsemanship. This is probably the best executed drill I have EVER seen.

Here is our team performing for the first time at the AQHA. Please ignore any imperfections, such as me on the white flag horse (last pair of flag horses to enter) that doesn't stop...lol. Just go in, have fun, enjoy the ride!:)

I hope I didn't over flood you with information:) If you need any help, the coach of the Freedom Riders is also a USEDA judge (Heather Comerate), she does drill clinics all over the country, and she also runs the DRILL FEVER! Showcasing the Sport of Equestrian Drill Team webpage. I'll be willing to help you, and she can also answer any questions you might have:)
Corporal, KayceeJo and 5Bijou5 like this.
    04-04-2013, 10:36 PM
Super Moderator
I was on one for years. I had a blast. I'll have to dig up pictures... It was actually started by adults who had horses. They loaned their horses and their time and their trailers to the team.

I didn't even own a horse when I joined. I rode other peoples horses in the beginning. It was tons of fun.

We did parades and drills all over the place. It really was a blast. Here are a couple pictures. I'd have to dig for the rest.
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    04-04-2013, 11:45 PM
Green Broke
Man...writing all that really made me miss drill. :( I've made some of my best rides in drill. And some of my best friends...I met my long time boyfriend on the team, my best friend Kasey introduced me to drill. Never realized just how big a part of my life it was, till now.. The team was there for me when I lost Mango (the bay), they were there for me when I needed a ride or a shoulder to cry on. It's been hard letting go, I don't think I will ever be able to get it out of my blood..
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    04-04-2013, 11:53 PM
I tried starting a drill thread last year with little response, glad drill people are coming out of the woodwork!!

This is my second year on drill. The team is brought together by an association locally and we ride at the big rodeo held at the grounds of the association. Wish that wasn't our only event but it sounds like this year we might do a parade, would mean checking another thing off my bucket list!
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Corporal and KayceeJo like this.
    04-08-2013, 06:53 AM
Drill is an incredible experience. I used to be one the 6+ team for my high school equestrian. It was not only an honor as the try outs were very competitive, but wonderful too. You get so close to your teammates, because you have to trust them...If you don't, you won't ride together correctly.

That would be something I would do again if there was a team close. I'm carrying a sponsor flag at the rodeos this year but not riding on a team...Probably going to join the local Sherriffs Possee however, who have a drill team and do other volunteer things.
Corporal likes this.
    04-08-2013, 07:07 AM

That was one of my favorite drills from last season. It was fun, upbeat, and even though it wasn't the one that won I really enjoyed it. Especially the slide stop and salute at the end.
Corporal likes this.
    04-10-2013, 12:13 PM
Thank y'all for all the advice!! It was very helpful!

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