Young equestrian teaches Rotary about horseback competitions

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Parker Miller, 14 year-old daughter of Pete and Marcie Miller, who is a competing equestrian, gave Rotarians a quick lesson on “Eventing,” the name given to a three-part Equine competition.

The Event covers three days of riding phases, and is probably the equine version of a triathalon.

The first phase “Dressage,” (French for training) could be described as ballet on horseback. The goal is to complete a series of complicated movements without any signaling to the horse. Although it looks easy, it is considered the hardest portion of the competition.

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The second event is Cross Country – making 18 to 26 jumps of obstacles.

Described by Parker’s mother as, “extremely dangerous and hard for a mother to watch,” Parker allowed that it was her favorite part. She likes the speed and the concentration.

It is followed by the Jogs, parading the horse in front of officials who look for any small physical problem the horse may have developed. If any are found the horse is disqualified from continuing.

The hardest phase according to Parker is the next one—Stadium Jumping, where horse and rider jump over rails held in place by cups that are easily knocked down. The horses are judged on how well they can come back after the strenuous cross-country session.

Videos of Parker and her horse Jos Baco (aka Taco) in the various phases were shown as they competed at the Red Hills competition in Tallahassee in March.

The competition is all about the relationship between horse and rider. Since it takes years of training to compete, they also start training a younger horse to take over when the first horse gets too old.

Parker will advance to the North American Junior Young Riders Championship for Area 3 in July, where she will be the youngest competitor.

She began taking riding lessons at age 4 and at 5 got her own horse. Her dream is to qualify for the Olympics.

In the meantime, she does all of the caring, feeding and training of her horse and rides daily unless the weather is too bad.

In spite of this being a hugely expensive sport, winning is all about the glory, as there is no prize money given in the U.S., only a ribbon. Riders competing in European contests can win big monetary prizes.