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Amanda Peterson on her way to Texas for horse competition

By Heather Carlile

hcarlile@agrinews.com

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Amanda Peterson of Rochester says she likes horses because each one is different. She likes to figure out what they’re thinking.

It’s a good thing the University of Minnesota-Crookston sophomore appreciates horses’ individuality because when she competed earlier this month at the Western Equestrian Regional Show in Brookings, S.D., she had to do so on a horse she never rode before.

The Arabian belonged to the show’s host, South Dakota State University.

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Peterson competed in the Advanced Horsemanship Division.

"I always loved horsemanship so that’s one of the main things I always worked on," she said.

With only a few tips from the trainers, she was judged on rail works — walking, trotting and loping, which is faster than a trot, around the arena — followed by an intricate pattern given to her to memorize just before the show. Peterson’s pattern involved stops, 360 degree pivots and turns, and all the while she needed to maintain her body posture.

She knew the judges’ eyes were on her; horsemanship competitions judge the rider.

"They just want to see a flawless rider," she said of the judges. "It’s mostly on you and how you handle that horse."

This wasn’t her first time in a horse show, but she knew her competition would be tough. Golden Eagle Western Coach Nicky Overgaard says the region is one of the largest and most competitive in the nation. Zone Nine, Region Three of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association is comprised of schools from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

"We just have a lot of really good schools (in the region) with really big teams that have some really good riders," said Peterson.

But out of the six people in her division, she earned the title of Regional Champion.

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"I was really shocked," she said.

This qualifies her to ride in the Western Semifinals at West Texas A & M University in Canyon, Texas, on March 29 and March 30. She was the only one on the Golden Eagle Western Equestrian Team to qualify and it will be her first time competing at the show.

U of M-Crookston’s athletic department will pay for her trip and she will be accompanied by Overgaard.

Peterson said she and her coach have been practicing in preparation for the semifinals.

"I think it’s gonna be a pretty cool experience," she said. "...I’m pretty excited."

Peterson is double majoring in equine science and agricultural business management. She sees herself showing even after college.

"I get such a joy about showing," she said.

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