Jacksonville, FL (June 15, 2017) — This weekend, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is proud to host the Southeast Mounted Drill Team Association (SEMDTA) National Open Drill Team Championships – a competition full of exciting choreographed equine performances. This will be SEMDTA’s fourth National Championship, and the first one held at the expansive Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida. The event will be open to the public on June 16-17, and offers free parking and spectator admission.
Spectators can expect to see drill teams of all experience levels perform synchronized movements to music on their horses. An additional Theme Division will include costumes that correspond with teams’ music choices. The mounted competition will feature beautiful horses and talented riders with flags and costumes, who will compete in high-speed routines for National Championship titles.
According to the Linda Heusner, Executive Director of the Southeast Mounted Drill Team Association, participation is largely youth-based and the association offers youth, walk-trot, and 4-H/FFA divisions. The association offers adult and open divisions, as well. “This is mostly a youth sport, but we are beginning to get some adult teams to participate,” Heusner said.
The SEMDTA holds competitions throughout the year, offering classes in divisions such as Color Guard, Freestyle, Theme, and Rodeo. At this year’s National Championships, teams across age and class divisions will compete for awards and national titles.
“I am always looking for different venues to encourage teams from other states to come participate,” Heusner said. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center seemed the perfect choice for this year’s National Championships, with its expansive riding arenas, over 400 permanent stalls, a huge indoor coliseum that includes a 123,000 square foot arena, full RV hookups, riding trails, and plenty of additional space for venders and concessions.
Heusner’s love for drill team riding began when she worked with the Georgia Horse Council and organized drill team competitions. Even after leaving the council, she continued organizing the drill team events. “I have been with SEMDTA for about five years,” Heusner said. “I love doing it because I love the youth participating and coming together as a team. I have watched many young people grow up in drill, and I have made some great and long-lasting friendships through drill.
This weekend at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, a total of 61 horses and 58 riders will make up the 12 drill teams competing for National Championship titles. Competition begins at 2:00 pm on Friday, June 16, and is expected to last until about 5:00 pm on that day. The excitement will resume at 9:00 am on Saturday, June 17, and the show will conclude with an award ceremony at about 3:00 pm.
Other upcoming equestrian events at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center include the Summer Dressage Schooling Challenge Showposium from June 23-25, presented by the First Coast Classical Dressage Society. This event will include a Classical Dressage Clinic with judge Brian MacMahon and schooling show classes. After that, the facility will host an All-Breed Horse Show on July 15, open to a variety of equestrians.
The Jacksonville Equestrian Center also offers non-equine-oriented amenities and plays host to exciting, family-friendly events throughout the year, utilizing every aspect of the expansive grounds for recreational and social events. With an indoor swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course, and other sporting facilities adjacent to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, it’s a popular destination all summer long.
Sprawling over 80 acres and easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center also features access to miles of hiking and riding trails and a picnic pavilion. For more information and to find out about the Southeast Mounted Drill Team Association’s National Championships and other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call 904-255-4215.
Photo: The Jacksonville Equestrian Center will host the SEMDTA National Open Drill Team Championships this weekend