Coed Varsity Equestrian · Equestrian… What’s that?

Today, I bring to you a little story about Equestrian.  Some of you may see that word and not know what it means or maybe even how to say it.  So for those of you who have no idea what this word is about, I hope to enlighten your world by bringing you the facts.

Horses. Yes, that’s right, Horses.  That is the main word you can associate with the word, Equestrian.  Not only is it just horses, but these horses are accompanied by very skilled riders, who not only know the anatomy of their horse but also the personality of their horse, what their horse is good at, and what their horse struggles with.  These riders don’t treat these animals like any other animal, they are companions, best friends, if you will.  In this, lies the beauty of Equestrian.  For those of you who have never been to an equestrian meet, I encourage you to put it on your bucket list.  Not only is it something of great prestige and pride, but it is also a sport of class, honor, and competition.

Many of you are probably just as in the dark as I was about Equestrian, my goal in this article is to let you in on two little secrets that the girls on the Grand Rapids Christian Equestrian team know all too well.  EQUESTRIAN IS NOT EASY.  EQUESTRIAN TAKES A LOT OF TIME.  There now you know.  However, it’s easy to read it and agree with it, so I am going to give you a little background on a typical Saturday morning in the life of an Eagle Equestrian Star.

Equestrian meets are held on Saturdays at Barry County Fairgrounds. The meets start at 9am, but the riders wake up around 5am to get their horses fed and trailered to the meet. The showmanship classes start the meet. They are in-hand classes in which the rider and horse is judged on the assigned pattern they perform. Next are the Saddle Seat classes which are riding classes (equitation, bareback, and pattern). After that is the Hunt Seat classes which are much like the saddle seat classes, but the riders wear different clothing and the horses have different tack (a term used to describe any of the various equipment and accessories worn by horses). There also is a jumping class. The afternoon starts with the Western classes which the riders are judged on the rail on equitation (the proper position of the rider) and then a bareback class (no saddle) and a pattern class. The last 4 classes are speed classes: flags, cloverleaf, timed-event, and 2-man relay. These are judged on the rider and horse’s speed. Another class that goes on throughout the day in a separate arena is the Trail class. This is like an obstacle course on horseback. The horse and rider must complete the pattern with as little errors an possible. Errors include hitting poles, not performing an obstacle correctly like opening a gate, or performing the pattern incorrectly.This class takes much skill and concentration for the horse and rider. The meets end around 5:30pm making it a long, but fun day for the horses and riders.

There you have it, Equestrian.  If you didn’t previously know what this sport is all about hopefully this has enlightened you.  As you can see, and might have already known, Equestrian often gets forgotten about in the realm of our everyday sporting world.  However, the concentration, determination, athleticism, and not to mention control needed by these girls to not only effectively handle themselves but also handle a 1,200 pound animal, really make you appreciate the world of Equestrian.  And if it doesn’t, well maybe some Saturday morning at 5 am Head Coach Anna Zokoe will come to your house, have you load up a trailer with a massive animal and tell you to go ride it all day through numerous events.  I know I couldn’t do it.

So here’s to the Equestrian Team of Grand Rapids Christian High, a team of unique girls who often don’t get noticed for their hard work, dedication, and time.  Here’s to their Head Coach, Anna Zokoe, who I am sure has had countless long days and tiresome events.  And finally here’s to the Horses, who as well as these athletes are amazing creatures made by God to do extraordinary things.

Here is this year’s Eagle Equestrian Team:


Jessalyn Gingrich (Senior)

Hannah Burkhart (Junior)

Elle Brady (Junior)

Audrey Conrad (Freshman)


Emily VanMeurs (Senior)


The Eagles came in fourth over all in their district with a total of 147 points throughout 3 meets so far this year. (2 points behind 3rd place and 9 points behind 2nd place!)


Keep up the good work!  Go Eagles!