Local Equestrians are Questing the World Cup
Lucas resident, April Evans, is the coach (drill master) of the Woodhaven Wranglers, an all-girl equestrian drill team. The team started in 2005. Evans has been the coach for six years. The team has nearly tripled in size in the past six years. Explaining the growth, Evans said, “We focus not just on riding but on being good team members.” Christy Stammen, mother of Woodhaven Wrangler Sierra Stammen said, “I think the team has grown because it is one of the few equestrian sports where the girls can compete together as a team instead of as individuals. The friendships the girls form are amazing and they really do respect their coach April and learn valuable lessons from her, and from each other. Younger girls come into Woodhaven and hear about the Wranglers and aspire to be a part of the team.”
There are currently 32 girls on the team - 12 on varsity, eight on junior varsity and 12 on novice. The girls range from nine to 18 years old. Requirements to be a Woodhaven Wrangler are to have basic riding or equestrian skills. Evans said, “We will train you.” As a rider develops, she will move up to another team.
The team members agree that making friends, who feel like sisters, is the best element of being a Woodhaven Wrangler. Sarah Muckelroy adds, “It’s nice to be on a team and learn how to ride better from the older girls.” Clementine Brown said, “I get to bond with people who do what I do.” Jenna Evans said the trickiest part of the show is “Making sure you are on point and ready to go for your team.” Jillian Garver and Sierra Stammen say the most difficult aspect of the show is staying calm. Casey Perkins enjoys performing the show at a fast speed. When asked which her favorite aspect was and which the most difficult part of the show was, Jaica Evans said to both questions, “The intensity”. Taylor Braun said she enjoys the excitement of riding in a competition. Lindsey Farrell enjoys the sense of accomplishment she feels after running a good run.
Events the team has participated in this year include the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, Drill in the Pines competition (they won first in every division they competed in, including overall High Point), Texoma Junior Rodeo Finals and Fort Worth Stock Show Parade and Rodeo. Upcoming events include USEDA National competition (June 19-24) in Athens, TX and Kueckelhan Ranch Rodeo (July 26 – 28) in Bonham, TX. The community is invited to come cheer the team on at their upcoming events.
Evans explains the difference between rodeo and competition performances. “Rodeo performances are shorter and usually faster, higher energy focusing on crowd appeal. We want to entertain the crowd and pull them into our performance. Competition drills are longer and the speed fluctuates depending on the drill we are doing. We are focused on precision more than speed.”
The Woodhaven Wranglers are an all youth team competing against adult teams who have more experience. Because of this fact, Evans said, “We have to bring our A game every time we ride.” Stammen describes the Nationals Competition (aka, Super Walk), “(It) takes place over four days. Teams come from all over, including other states, to compete. The competition is usually more difficult, and the girls work really hard to be ready for Super Ride each year. We compete in divisions like rodeo, championship, youth, youth novice, theme, and quad. Super Ride also has a youth All Star team and two girls from our team will be a part of that this year.” Stammen provides a glimpse into the competition show, “For our theme, we are going to be gladiators, and we are excited to entertain the crowd with our costumes and music. April does an amazing job of writing drills, teaching them to the girls, picking out uniforms, and then picking music to bring the whole drill together. Our goal for Super Ride this year is to get our team's name on the World Cup.”
Evans said that many characteristics built while being a Woodhaven Wrangler are the same as those developed while on other sports teams, “The riders learn hard work, dedication, teamwork and camaraderie.” Regarding why she coaches the team she said, “I never would have imagined that I’d be coaching an equestrian drill team but I love each of these girls and enjoy watching them grow and develop, not just into great horsemen but into amazing young ladies.”
Approximately half the team lives within the Lovejoy community. The remaining members reside in Allen, McKinney, Princeton, Plano and Wylie.