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July 23, 2013

Red Dirt Ride features equestrian drill team

Event returns to Fair & Expo Center for 6th year

DUNCAN — Choreography is an art form made more difficult by the number of people involved, but imagine each of those people on a 1,300 pound animal with its own mind.

This is the kind of “dancing” teams entered in the 6th annual Red Dirt Ride, hosted by the Oklahoma Equestrian Drill Association, will compete in Saturday and Sunday at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center.

Opening ceremonies will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, events will begin immediately following and will end around 3:30 p.m. Sunday begins with cowboy church at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 9:15 a.m. and events. At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, competitors will take a break and reconvene for the awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

“We have about 10 teams signed up to come,” said Vicki Foster, event coordinator. “A team must have four members and then you can have as many as you want. One team has 18 (this year) and the largest one at one point had 32.”

Out of the teams signed up to attend this year’s ride, most are from Oklahoma including the Canadian Valley Rangerette Youth, 2012 Large Team High Point Champions, and the Pistols & Pearls Drill Team, 2012 Small Team High Point Champions.

There is one team from Texas and one team from Arkansas signed up to come.

History of equestrian drill team type riding formations is rooted deeply in the military from all over the world. The maneuvers began on the battlefield, where there had to be much order to fight effectively on horseback.

In the 1930s, drill team competition became a popular feature of horse shows throughout America. Today, the skill is used to teach teamwork and drill team is good for those who are not interested in horse show ring competition.

“It’s really neat to see and it’s hard to explain unless you see it,” said Foster.

Teams work throughout the year to come up with choreography that works well with their numbers and then choose a song to go with it, typically a country and western sound. Decked out in colorful western attire, the competitors then perform before judges at contests.

At the Red Dirt Ride, there will also be other activities for the team members competing. There will be a horse stall decorating contest, poster decorating for both teams and individuals, as well as a number of vendors.

This is also the event’s sixth year in Duncan.

“The facility is awesome and Duncan is such a nice town,” Foster said.

For information, visit reddirtride.weebly.com.

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