Cowgirls know the drill |

Cowgirls know the drill

Post Independent/Kelley Cox Members of the Cedar Ridge Ranch Riders, including Janet Lapin, front, and Chris Kelly, gather at the ranch on Missouri Heights to practice their equestrian drill team routines Tuesday. See the upcoming Sunday Panorama for related photos.

MISSOURI HEIGHTS – Before performing with the Cedar Ridge Ranch Riders Drill Team, Butch was one ornery brown horse.”He liked to buck and run off,” said Jeanne Jolley, Butch’s owner.Jolley is one of the eight team members who perform choreographed routines at the Snowmass Rodeo each summer. Now a performer, Butch has gone from ornery to arrogant.”Now he’s just a show-off,” Jolley said.Jolley joined the all-female equestrian drill team, formed in the fall of 2003, before Butch was in the picture.

“At the time, I answered the ad and I had just sold my horse,” said Jolley, as she brushed Butch before weekly practice at Randy and Pam Johnson’s Cedar Ridge Ranch indoor arena on Missouri Heights. “I wanted something to do with horses, because that’s my passion.”Now Butch and Jolley are best of friends.”He’s special to me and he has bonded with me,” said Jolley, of New Castle. “He’s usually waiting at the gate for me to go to practice. It’s a lot of fun – it’s good for me, and it’s good for the horses, too.”Drill team performances require riders and their horses to form a cohesive team. With Jolley’s direction, Butch can now trot, canter, gallop, sidepass, turn and stop on command.”The drill team really improves a horse’s value,” Jolley said. “They’re not as idle like so many horses are.”Like Jolley, drill-team leader Mary Beth Hall can’t wait to saddle up and ride her horse Spirit, a Polish Arabian, in drill team shows. She started riding at 17, taking lessons from a teacher who proved to be an inspiration.

“My riding instructor was my mentor. I wanted to be just like her,” said Hall, of Silt, who was raised in the wilderness of Alaska. “She was very bold. She rode like she was one with the horse. She was very confident, and I just loved that.”Hall followed her mentor’s lead by coaching a 4-H Club girl’s drill team in Alaska before moving to Colorado three years ago.”Coaching, that’s what got me hooked,” said Hall, who is a certified drillmaster with the United States Equestrian Drill Association. “This is a really fun sport to do with your horse. It’s a team sport.”Last summer was the first season Hall performed with the Cedar Ridge Ranch Riders Drill Team. She was later elected drill team leader for the 2006 performance season, when she’s not busy with her own drill team in Rifle.”It’s an art to watch her put everyone in the places they need to be,” Jolley said. “I couldn’t do that. It is a talent.”New team member Suzy Karlinski, of Snowmass Village, agreed.

“Mary Beth is great,” said Karlinski, who rides with her horse, Carmela. “She’s so organized and she’s so good at it.”Hall said she would like to help the Cedar Ridge Ranch team grow – and not just in membership.”My goal is to try and get everyone together for friendly competition and to run clinics to educate the public,” she said. “And I would like to see this team at 12 members. The more riders you have, the more exciting the patterns. And the more riders you have riding at each other, the more spectacular it is for the audience. The more members in a drill team, the fancier.”As the Cedar Ridge Ranch Riders and their horses practiced their choreographed routine Tuesday, Butch seemed happy to oblige.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext.

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