Local rider bucs into nationals

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Prospect equestrian team rider competes in New York

By Jason Stamm

The Kentucky Derby might be known as the fastest two minutes in sports.

But another horse event might be a close second and just as challenging.

Forever Green Riding Academy in Prospect, home to a youth equestrian team, sent one of its riders to compete Friday in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s hunt seat national finals in Syracuse, N.Y.

IEA events differ from other equestrian events in that participants ride a different horse at each competition. Riders select a horse’s name out of a hat and have 15 minutes to practice two jumps and familiarize with the horse.

Riders are judged on posture and how they ride the horse during a two-minute course.

“Each horse is different,” Louisville’s Lucy Hoeppner said. “It takes a lot of strategy to figure out the best way to ride the horse.”

Hoeppner, a 15-year-old home-schooled student has been training at Forever Green with owner Keedle Ritter for the past two years.

She will be competing at the national finals after winning the zone 5 finals March 18 in Wilmington, Ohio.

Ritter said she’s been impressed with how Hoeppner has adapted to each horse she’s ridden in practice and competition.

“She adapts quickly and she just has a real knack for the different horses,” Ritter said.

Hoeppner is one of 45 members of Forever Green’s equestrian team consisting of girls in grades 6-12. There are no boys on the team, though the team is open to boys and girls.

“Even though you don’t know the horses, you have to know what you’re gonna do and be ready for anything to happen,” said Hadley Gibbs, a sixth-grader at North Oldham Middle School.

Members of the team are helping Hoeppner prepare for the finals by donating money to buy a new helmet and riding boots.

Some of the team members also drove with Hoeppner to Syracuse.

Ritter said Hoeppner needs to show the same discipline and poise she had during the zone finals.

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