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The seniors on the Bedford High School equestrian team have been on the team all four years. (COURTESY)

Bedford High equestrians in the saddle this weekend

BEDFORD — Members of the Bedford High School equestrian team have more to think about than just themselves when they head to Fremont this weekend to compete in the New Hampshire High School Equestrian Teams state finals.

“You’re managing a half-ton animal, so there’s a lot to think about when you’re in an equestrian competition,” said Suzanne Withee, team spokesman.

The Bedford High School equestrian team will send 12 riders to Brookvale Pines Farm in Fremont this Sunday, where they’ll represent the southwest district, which includes Derryfield, Goffstown, Hillsborough-Deering, ConVal, John Stark Regional and Monadnock Regional high schools.

Withee said in addition to managing their horses, team members will have to manage their nerves during the competition. “A horse will sense a nervous rider,” Withee said. “So there are safety issues to deal with, and of course there’s the weather that’s always something to think about. Last year it was extremely windy, and the horses were spooked, so that can bring a whole other dimension to the game.”

The New Hampshire High School Equestrian Teams show season runs for five weeks, and this year’s Bedford High team coaches are Katrina Villemaire, Kristen McCormick and Tracy Welch, who work individually with each rider and horse.

The team’s home practice arena is located in Goffstown at Oak Rise Farm, which was also the host farm for this year’s Southwest District A shows.

The Bedford High equestrian team was formed five years ago under the leadership of Colette Dudka and BHS guidance counselor, Zanna Blaney.

“It’s exciting to have 12 team members make the state finals,” said Withee. “These kids work really hard, and this is a test of their perserverance. They all want to pull out their best on game day.”

Students who will be riding this weekend are Katelyn Ouelette, Devon Sealander, Katie Willer, Sandra Walser, Katie Cross Powers, Allie Withee, Amanda Lasalle, Jennifer Lasalle, Molly Burns, Devin Cunningham, Morgan Lussier and Lauren Face.

Brookvale Farm is located at 154 Martin Road in Fremont. Sunday’s competition runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

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