BERRIEN SPRINGS — High school equestrian season began on Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Youth Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs.

The Bridgman squad led C Division at the end of the first day (a two-day district finale takes place in mid-September) with 130 points.The top two teams in each class qualify for regionals

New Buffalo was in a close battle with Berrien Springs (118 points versus 111) for the second spot in C, while River Valley was within 8 points of D Division leader Michigan Lutheran (110 to 102) for first place.

New Buffalo Coach Alicia Holub has five riders this year — junior Emma Totzke (riding “Chippy”), freshman Camille Czech (“Gigi”), junior Emma Fox (“Houston”), sophomore Kristen Wamser (“Stanley”) and Emily Fatter (“Wrangler”).

Fatter, a senior who was injured in a spill during Fair Week, was at the Aug. 25 meet to support her teammates — and is hoping to be riding with them in mid September.

Totzke, a junior, was the lone rider last year as New Buffalo’s program was revived after a few years off.

“I rode just about all of the events last year, today I’m only riding English, Western and I’m doing one gaming event (flags). I did all my showmanship classes this morning,” she said.

Totzke said she helped recruit more riders for 2019, some who were switching horses last year or getting a new one.

“We brought out some more girls this year which is a lot more fun,” Holub said.

Bridgman coach Ali Reifschneider is looking to continue the Bees’ long history of success at districts and beyond (including a 2016 state championship).

This year’s riders are Kristian Dalton (with “Chrome” and “Beroy”); Emma Fanslau (“Simon”); Naomi Lohraff (“Boomer” and “Bullet”); and Elizabeth Whitehead (“Sam”). All are seniors except Fanslau (a sophomore).

River Valley head coach Kaitlin Miller (assisted by Katrena Klopfenstein) has two riders for 2019 — Sophia Bender (“Kingston: and “Sammy”) and Lauren Kemp (“Bo”).

“Lauren’s my show-er, she does the pleasure stuff and the horsemanship very well. Sophia’s specialty is the gaming, barrel racing and that kind of stuff.”

Both are seniors, but Miller said there are two middle school riders set to reach high school next year.

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