By Liz Shepard
For the first time in the team’s history, the Oxford High School Equestrian Team has brought home back-to-back state championships.
The Wildcats sealed the win Sunday at the Midland County Fairgrounds after four days of showing in the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association State Championship. The team of 12 riders earned 492 points, dominating the competition, with reserve champion Lakeland coming in second with 279 points.
“We are always aware of how lucky we are to ride for such a successful program,” said co-captain and senior Katie Main. “That’s why we work so hard. To win two in a row is just fantastic. We are proud of the fact that we were able to do something that hasn’t been done here before.
“And we are happy we were able to carry on the winning tradition. We are all teammates and friends. Being able to share those winning moments with your friends is something we will never forget.”
Teams compete based on how many riders are on the team. While Oxford took home the B division title in 2016, this year it competed as in the A division, the largest class.
This is the 18th straight trip to the state championship for the Wildcats under Head Coach Dee Shepard. The riders and coaches credit the team’s dedication and commitment for its continued success.
“Our program takes a lot of commitment from not only the riders and parents, but the coaches as well,” said assistant coach Kellie Roth. “We start early in the spring in the gym, and then continue throughout the summer and fall with multiple practices every week. We focus on strength, proper equitation, and of course lots and lots of pattern work.”
Oxford took the lead early in the first day of competition Thursday and never looked back.
“It feels awesome to win states two years in a row and it being my last year on the team makes it even better,” said co-captain and senior Hannah Suddeth. “I will remember all of the memories that I’ve made with my teammates.”
The MIHA state championship requires riders to compete in a variety of disciplines, including huntseat, western, saddleseat, jumping and timed events.
“I believe each rider’s heart and determination gave them the winning edge, not one of them doubted themselves,” said assistant coach Jennifer Fifield.
This is the team’s fifth state title, with previous wins in 2012, 2008 and 1980.
Letter to the Editor
The Oxford High School Equestrian Team has a long history of success, but the Wildcats made history this year by earning back-to-back state championships.
And we couldn’t have done it without the community’s support. The riders, their horses, coaches and parents would like to say thank you for all those who helped us reach this achievement.
Eighteen years ago the Wildcats stepped back into the state championship ring and haven’t looked back.
Thank you: Contemporary Smiles, Crescent Ridge Farms, Covered Wagon Saddlery, MPI, Time Square Riding Academy, 5-1 Diner, 24th Street Sports Tavern, Burdick Street Landscape and Equipment, Friendly Chrysler Lapeer, Hometown Plumbing, Lori’s Pet Paradise, Merge Art Studio, MIDAS, Oscar’s, Oxford Farm and Garden, Oxford Tap, Red Ox, Rio on Main, White Horse Inn, Creative Embroidery, Dr. Evan Moore, Pink and Charlies, Whisky Mountain, Back Street Barber Shop, Louie’s Food and Spirits, Oxford Veterinary Hospital, Sisters Hair Care, Victoria’s Delights and Bubble Tea and Me.
Oxford Equestrian Team Head Coach