September 1, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

Equine drill teams require horses and riders to work in tandem with one another and with their fellow members. It means long hours of learning a routine and trying to perfect it. But for most 4-H equine team members it also means getting to spend time atop their horses.

“That was one of my main reasons,” said Carson Cavitt, 12, a member of the Renegades drill team from Muhlenberg County.

She said she also wanted to see how well the horse her family raised from a colt would perform.

Drill teams are a part of the 4-H horse club programs. Teams consist of either six to 12 members or 13 to 24 members. The small teams must perform a routine between seven and 10 minutes long, with large team performances between seven and 12 minutes. 

“They start practicing in January for this, and the state competition is in July,” said Tommy Harrison, Muhlenberg County Extension agent for 4-H Youth Development. “They devote many hours to training.”

Harrison said he depends on adult volunteers to coach the drill team. Muhlenberg County has had a team for about 15 years of which five were state champions. The 2005 winner in their category was a team from Jefferson County.

Erica Phelps, 16, is captain of the 20-member Renegades team. Her job is to keep the team in line, quiet and paying attention during practice. She blows the whistle when it is time to change routines.

Jimmy Phelps is one of the coach volunteers. He said first his daughter, Erica, became involved with horses, then his wife had to have one and they “ended up with 10.”

Phelps said he’s enjoyed working with the program and helping develop the routine.

“We had a great bunch of kids this year,” he said.

This is Erica Phelps fifth year as a team member and she’ll likely be back for a sixth.

“I love it,” she said. “I love the adrenaline when we perform, and I love working together. It gets you connected with your horse.”


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Tommy Harrision, 270-338-3124