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4-H equestrian drill team presents shows at the fair

The horses, riders, costumes, and the music are center stage when the 4-H equestrian drill team show is held on four evenings at the Dakota County Fair in Farmington next week. Each show begins at 7 p.m.

Emily Norwig is a participant/leader. Her parents, Jim and Patty, are coordinators for the team.

"An equestrian drill team is a group of horses and riders that do a ... routine to music," she said. "It was created for those kids who wanted to try something new without it being super competitive like the rest of county's 4-H horse programs tend to be."

There is a competition at the state level, however.

Besides gaining the most points based on their precision of movement system, children are judged on how well they work together in a group, their music choices, how well the music fit their pattern, their costumes and behavior.

Norwig said that these aspects are the focus of the summer practices.

The drill team competitions are all done in a group. For example, one can compete in freestyle, which is described as having more than five riders with music, pace and maneuvers of choice. Freestyle 5 and under is the same as freestyles except the group can have five or fewer riders.

Compulsory is a group which has the same number and the group performs the same routine with the score based on precision and accuracy. The quad team has a maximum of four riders who perform to music a maximum of four minutes.

The equestrian drill team is considered a team sport and the youth must make a commitment to the team and attend as many practices as possible, said Norwig.

"They should also have a dependable horse that gets along well with others and the youth has to be willing to participate and follow instructions," she said. "The only requirement for going to the state completion is that the youth must have finished sixth grade."

This is the fifth year the Dakota County Fair has had an equestrian drill team show. When it started, there were eight riders; that number has grown to 30 this year.

The sport is definitely growing, Norwig pointed out. "Though we have lost some riders due to graduation, we've gained many younger ones that will make the Dakota County Drill Bits Equestrian Drill Team thrive and grow for many years," she said.

In addition to the Dakota County Fair, the team participates in several parades each year.

This year's fair show is held at 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6-9.