Local girls place in national equestrian championship

Published 1:37 pm Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two local girls placed in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Championship that took place April 20 through the 24 in Lexington, Kentucky. Mallory Francis and Coles Owens both placed at their competing levels.

In order for the riders to be able to compete in the national championship, they have to qualify through through a series of other competitions. Owens and Francis ride for the HRA/Foxtail Farm team, coached by Dana Kiser and located in Smithfield, and Sugi Dewant, located in Virginia Beach, and ride at the middle school level.

Owens, a seventh grader at Southampton Academy, rode in her two classes, Future Novice Over Fences and Future Novice on the Flat, as an individual, meaning she qualified for regionals by accumulating points during the regular season. At regionals she placed second in both of her classes, which qualified her to move on to Zones, where she placed first and second in her classes.

At Nationals, Owens place fourth in the Future Novice over Fences class.

Francis, an eighth grader at Southampton Middle School, also competed as an individual in her two classes, Future Intermediate Over Fences and Future Intermediate on the Flat.

When competing at regionals, Owens placed second and third. and when she competed at zones she placed third and first.

At nationals, Francis was the Champion in the Future Intermediate Over Fences class. She also placed fourth in the Future Intermediate on the Flat class.

One of the major differences between the all the other competitions and nationals is that at nationals the girls are not allowed to ride their own horses, while at the other competitions they are.

This was Owens’ first time competing at the national competition and she said it was “nerve-wracking,” and added that she learned confidence at it.

Francis has competed at nationals two other times before this year and said, “It was exciting and fun, but I learned to be appreciative and thankful that I made it.”

They both repeatedly said that more than anything, they love riding horses and always have a lot of fun at all the competitions.

Owens and Francis train daily at Riverdale Farm in Carrsville, which is owned by Francis’ mother, Carla. They compete during the regular Virginia Horse Show Association season with Carla and other riders at the barn.

Carla is also a VHSA Associate Level judge, and can be found judging around the state when she is not with her own kids at VHSA shows.