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Choate and Pankratz Lead Albion to Win at Home

After a slow start to the morning, solid rides from senior Olivia Choate (Fenwick/Gratton Academy) and sophomore Hannah Pankratz (Bad Axe/Bad Axe), as well as the rest of the Briton stock seat team, helped Albion secure a win in the second half of their double-header at home.

Choate earned a win that qualified her for the IHSA regional show in the advanced division, as did Pankratz, who will head for Regionals in the intermediate division.  In addition, at the end of the day, first year riders Liz Rosner (West Bloomfield/Homeschool) and Chantal Chuba (Grosse Pointe Park/Grosse Pointe South) netted a one-two finish in walk-trot that helped secure the team victory.

Other top performers for the young Albion team included Michelle Miele (Bloomfield Hills/International Academy), Elle Root (Alpena/Alpena), and 2010 Semi-Finals qualifier Katie Petchell (Pinckney/Pinckney), who wound up in a five-way ride-off for reserve high-point at the end of the day.

The Britons get a brief break before their next meet, which will find them at Grand Valley State University on November 6.

Petschar and Utt Lead Britons to Victory at Saginaw Valley

It was the juniors from northern Michigan who led the Albion College stock seat team to their first victory of the 2011 season on Saturday, October 8.  Chelsea Utt (Harbor Springs/Petoskey) won her reining class on the way to being named High Point rider for the first half of the Britons’ double-header at Saginaw Valley State and Elizabeth Petschar (Iron Mountain/Kingsford) took first in the walk-trot division to qualify for the IHSA regional show in the spring of 2012.DSCF1711

The Albion stock seat team is an even mix of returning riders, including last year’s IHSA Semi-Finals qualifier Katie Petchell (Pinckney/Pinckney), and first-year competitors, which gives coach Denise Webber a good feeling – particularly after they netted the win in the morning portion of Saturday’s competition.  Though the Britons dropped to a fourth-place finish in the second half of the day’s competition, the season looks as though it’s shaping up to be a good one for Albion.

Next on the schedule is the home meet, hosted at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center on Albion’s campus this Saturday, October 15.

Equestrian Center Hosts Sisters Riding for Haiti Cause

Some unexpected overnight guests bunked at the Held Equestrian Center on Wednesday night—Brandy and Ashley Nelsey, who are on a trip from West Branch to Houston. The sisters are riding on horseback from their central Michigan hometown to Texas to raise money for a clean-water project In Haiti.

Albion Student Rides With Buck Brannaman

On most college and university campuses nation-wide, when first-year students want to travel home on a weekend, the explanation is usually homesickness.  Not so for Albion first-year Emily Love when she traveled home to Petoskey, Michigan over the weekend of September 17 and 18.  She was presented with the opportunity to ride in a clinic with famous horse whisperer Buck Brannaman and had no intention of missing it!

“It was an experience I will never forget,” Love said when it was over.brannaman3

While her own horse Ordained remained at the Albion College Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center for the weekend, Love borrowed Tamarisk, a 24 year old Trakhener mare belonging to a friend for the clinic, which was held at the Bay Harbor Equestrian Club in Harbor Springs, Michigan.  The theme of the clinic was general horsemanship skills both on the ground and in the saddle – which on Saturday meant that Love and the other clinic participants first worked with their horses in an unmounted session, desensitizing them to ropes and flags and getting the horses to move away from the slightest pressure of the handler.

Brannaman consistently stressed to his students that their horses needed to fully understand what was being asked of them at all times.  Love reported that he led by example with his own horse, a young gray mare with only a total of 25 rides on her prior to her arrival in Michigan.

“You wouldn’t guess that if you had seen the way she behaved,” Love said.  “She watched Buck every time he moved a hand, leg, and head or even slightly turned his body.”

brannaman1Brannaman and the clinics he gives nation-wide are currently riding a wave of popularity following the Sundance Film Festival premiere of the documentary of his life and work entitled Buck.  After enduring an abusive upbringing at the hands of his father, who forced Buck and his brother to perform on the rodeo circuit as pint-sized trick ropers, Brannaman was put into foster care in high school and eventually found his way to master horseman Ray Hunt, who became his mentor.  With Hunt’s help, he learned how to communicate with horses in a way that instills trust instead of fear.  As his reputation as a horseman grew, he later became the inspiration for the main character in Nicholas Evans' novel The Horse Whisperer and was Robert Redford's technical advisor during the making of the film of the same name.

Today, Brannaman spends 40 weeks per year on the road teaching horsemanship clinics like the one at Bay Harbor, which is an annual event.  Love said that he also treated the assembled audience to a few rope tricks, though he didn’t perform for too long, telling everyone, “I better stop soon before I mess up - I’m a little rusty.”

By the time she returned to campus following the clinic, Love reported that she had acquired several new horse handling skills and a different approach to communicating with not only her own horse, but with horses in general.

What's more, she is also a newly-minted Buck Brannaman fan.

“I will definitely try to ride with him again!” she said.

For more pictures and a Love’s first-person account, visit the Albion College Equestrian student blog at

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