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Tag Archive | "Local Girl Wins Reserve Champion for West Catholic"

Local girl wins Reserve Championfor West Catholic

By Josie Hiltz

Cedar Springs is a great place to be a horse crazy girl, having our own show grounds, 4-H groups, and Equestrian Teams at the schools. But if you live here and go to West Catholic, you find your horse-riding opportunities far more limited. That didn’t stop Kyra Hanna. As the lone rider for West Catholic’s Equestrian team, she took home the Reserve Championship in her division.

Kyra Hanna (R), of Cedar Springs, is shown here with her Equestrian Coach Gretchen Clarke. 

Kyra, 15, the daughter of Shawn and Denise Hanna of Cedar Springs, only started competing three  years ago, when she got her horse, “Jack Splash,” a registered American Paint Horse. They started with open shows, then 4-H, and looked forward to being on the Equestrian Team, which, at West Catholic, meant it was her and one other rider. During her freshman year, they finished a distant 3rd in the placings and then he graduated, leaving her to carry the team alone. 

Kyra and her coach, Gretchen Clarke, weren’t sure how the year would go, but after the first meet, she was in 2nd place out of 6 in her Division, and they decided to shoot for making it to the Regional Competition.  To do that, they had to accrue as many points as possible in each of the 3 District Meets. Some classes, like the 2-man relay, were obviously out for a single person team, as was jumping, which takes special training. But Kyra was game to take on anything else, including speed classes, and classes she had never tried before. Her coach mentioned that not many competed in Saddle Seat, would she be willing to learn how to show in that? She took one lesson from her trainer, and the next day, she placed 2nd at her meet in that. She and Jack would compete in up to 15 classes a meet, sometimes exiting the ring, swapping gear, then heading right back into the ring for another class.

Kyra Hanna and her horse, Jack Splash.

Her hard work paid off, and they won Reserve Champion in their Division, and qualified to show in the Regional Competition, showing against 8 teams in Division D, from 4 different Districts. “It was a great experience. I liked meeting new people, and everyone was friendly and helpful,” Kyra said of the experience. She and Jack placed 3rd there, missing 2nd place by just 15 points.

“Kyra is awesome”, says Coach Clarke. “She is very focused, an excellent rider. She just let the pressure roll right off her. She loves her horse and is an all-around great kid.”

Others recognized her good qualities as well. The District 16 Chairman chose Kyra as part of the “Dream Team,” which is the best of the best in the District, based on sportsmanship, performance and attitude. Only 11 competitors out of 80 are chosen, so it was quite an honor.

Next year, Kyra will be back in the saddle, possibly with a second mount to take some of the pressure off of Jack, and maybe with a new teammate. But whatever the situation, you can be sure she will be out there giving it her all.

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