TALES FROM THE TRAILS
The weather couldn’t have been better. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the main arena at Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park in The Acreage was the site of a good deal of fun and laughter. Nichole Sandeen, coach of the Outsiders Drill Team, organized a fun show as a fundraiser for the team. Sandeen owns three horses and rides with the team, which she started in 2007.
“Back then, I rode with the Appaloosa Club Drill Team,” Sandeen recalled. “They were fine, but I wanted to do more advanced patterns, wear different costumes and ride to more fun music. Joined by my sister, brother, uncle and cousin, who also ride, we decided to start our own family team. Gradually, riders hopped on, and we named ourselves the Outsiders, since we had all come from other teams.”
I remember watching them in their first competition at the South Florida Fair horse tent some years ago. They had an adult team with a biker theme, and a junior team with a hunting theme: some riders were hunters, some the deer. Their music was jazzy and engaging, their costumes were different and eye-catching. In January 2009, they wore John Deere green and yellow. The riders’ boots were green, their bridles green and yellow, and their horses’ leg bandages alternated yellow and green. The music included “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
Now the team boasts 22 members, and there’s a waiting list of riders who would like to join. Sandeen is also president of the Sunshine State Mounted Drill Team Club, which organizes competitions all over the state. Different clubs host the contests, coordinating venues, judges and trophies.
“We’re the only drill team left in Palm Beach County,” Sandeen said. “There used to be tons of teams: the South Florida Mustangs, Spur of the Moment, the Williston Juniors, Bits and Spurs, Leather and Lace, Dusty Roses, Diamond Divas and Magic Touch. Then the economy fell apart, and a lot of people had to sell their horses or move away. Now, the other teams are in Tampa, Ocala and Lake City. Our closest team is in Fort Myers.”
Drill teams shows are not your typical horse show.
“We don’t compete to win ribbons. We do it for the fun of working together with our horses,” Sandeen said. “Not all horses are suited for drill team. They have to be comfortable working side-by-side with other horses. It takes practice, practice and more practice, but some just can’t tolerate it no matter how hard they try. Others are perfectly fine with it.”
The fun show helped the team raise money toward its next competition in Tampa. There were eight games, each with a youth and adult class. Ride a Buck had people mounted bareback with a dollar bill clamped under one knee while walking, trotting and cantering; the last one with a dollar won. Egg and Spoon had riders going around holding an egg on a spoon. For Keyhole, riders galloped to the end of the arena, turned their horses in a circle without stepping out of the spray-painted circle, then raced back. Find Your Number involved riding in, jumping off and finding the right tennis ball. In the Potato Race, riders galloped to one barrel, grabbed a potato, ran around a second barrel, then dropped it in the basket on a third barrel. Musical Cones had riders going around until the music stopped, when they had to dismount and run to a cone. Figure Eight involved running a pattern, and Bite A Carrot was probably the horses’ favorite.
“We wanted to have fun, old-fashioned games that were safe,” Sandeen said. “It was only $20 for all eight games. We have a lot of new riders on the team who were stressing out because they couldn’t afford the costumes and tack. We raised $900, and it helped them out a lot. We have fishermen and firefighter themes this year, and we needed to outfit everyone for the state championship qualifiers in October and November held at the Tampa State Fairgrounds. It’s very exciting, but it’s a lot of work getting everyone and their horses organized.”
There were about 45 riders enjoying the fun show. Liz Settel trailered her horse up from Fort Lauderdale for the show and ended up winning the Ride A Buck class on Osceola, her Paint horse. “It was just luck,” she said as they rode out, victorious. “I have faith in my horse. He listens to me.”
Michelle Muir manned the booth, taking entries and selling raffle tickets. Her daughter, Amanda, rides with the team. “It’s going fine,” she said, pouncing on some papers that threatened to blow away in the breeze. “Everyone is having fun.”
Sheena Chism, Nichole Sandeen’s sister and a team member, was also selling raffle tickets. “The drill team competitions are lots of fun,” she said. “I like the challenge of it. My horse, Daisy Mae, is only five, but she is awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better mare. I’m glad this fundraiser is doing well. We’ve had a good turnout.”
Joe Mangravito and Brittany Beaupied of A Perfect Horse brought their two zebras. People were free to pet and take photos with them.
“The zebras were a big hit,” Sandeen said. “We really appreciate everyone who came out and supported us, as well as our sponsors who donated raffle prizes. It takes a community effort to get everything done. This fun show was such a success that we’re hoping to hold another one in January. We hope everyone will come out and join us for another day of fun with their friends and horses.”
To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/Outsiders-Drill-Team- 476283779076630/timeline.