HOPKINS, Mich. — Located in Allegan County, Hopkins is a small village with only a few hundred people. Four years ago they started an equestrian team for middle school students, and just last year they began one for the high school.
High school equestrian teams across the state are not rare…there are plenty. In fact, there are almost 350 such teams across the state with more than 2,000 students/riders that compete. Many of the riders on the Hopkins team are not new to the sport or horses at all. They were introduced to both at a much earlier age in 4H.
The group typically begins their competition in August (before school starts) and usually concludes by late September. While it’s not necessary to own your own horse to be on the team, each rider must have access to one. There are a variety of horse types that participate in 4H and equestrian competitions such as thoroughbreds and ponies. Some team members have spent years riding and getting to know their horse like Megan Snoeyink. A high school senior, Megan and her horse Blackjack have been working together for about nine years. “We do pretty much everything together from showmanship, to english, to western, to speed and action.”
Riders compete in several different events known as hunt seat, saddle seat, western, and something called gymkhana. The are 17 different classes at an equestrian show and the Hopkins High School team has six riders. If you ever get the chance to see an event, you’ll see the riders in full riding apparel from head to toe including boots, riding pants, and the traditional rounded english riding hat.