Eastern Maryland equestrian team to compete at Congress
CENTREVILLE — For the fourth year in a row, the Eastern Maryland Equestrian Association is fielding an equestrian team to compete in the National Youth Activity Team Tournament, as part of the 50th anniversary of the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, the largest single breed horse show in the world, held each year in Columbus, Ohio. The event began is 1967 as a three-day horse show in Columbus, sponsored and hosted by the Ohio Quarter Horse Association.
It was so successful, it has grown over the years, and now spans three and half weeks during the month of October. It begins on Oct. 6 and will conclude Oct. 30, with competitions everyday in a huge number of categories.
The weekend of Oct. 23, the EMEA team of Ariah Lusk, Rachel Grabowski and sisters Peyton and Rylee Ridgely will represent the Mid-Shore area. Peyton leads the team as a nationally recognize barrel racer, last year, earning Reserve Champion in the NYATT competition, and becoming the first member of the team to ever score in the highly competitive competition. She was beat out for as champion in the event by 4/100ths of a second. However, with her placing, she earned 14 points for the team, which placed 19th overall out of more than 60 teams competing from around the nation.
“The next goal is for our team to medal,” said team advisor Karen Mar x of Centreville. “It takes a team effort to do that. Peyton can’t medal as a team by herself, and that’s what we have our sights set on.” The top 15 teams in NYATT receive medals at the closing ceremony.
The last time a team from Maryland medaled in NYATT was 1995, 21 years ago. It was the Maryland State Quarter Horse Youth Association team, led by former team advisor Margaret Zasier, of Central Maryland.
“We placed 6th overall that year,” Zasier said, “the highest placing a Maryland team ever had. They were a pretty good group of kids. They knew what to do. You didn’t have to get after them to do what they were suppose to do to get ready. They just did it!”
Zasier still has the team trophy they were presented in her home.
All four EMEA girls have competed at Congress before, so they know what to expect. All have competed at regional and local Quarter horse shows this year in effort to get ready for this national competition. Rachel Grabowski won several Circuit championship awards at both New Jersey and Upper Marlboro shows. Ariah Lusk won Novice Youth Horsemanship in New Jersey, and her horse, “AOK Think Mr. Peters” was Grand Champion Model Horse during the recent Queen Anne’s County Fair among 40 horses entered, and she won the Sr. 4-H Trail class.
Marx said, “Being the 50th anniversary Congress show, I’m really excited we’re going. Our team will represent our area well.”