East Texas riders heading to Nationals

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - They are called "The East Texans."

Together, four high school students from Tyler have become the best in high school equestrian.

"It is an amazing team, we have some experienced riders," said Megan Kirkpatrick. "We all kind of have our own forte, so I think we do really really well as a team."

Team being the ulitmate word.

The rider is only as good as their horse.

"You are riding a 1,200 pound animal that has a brain just like you do," said Carter Ann Jones. "You really have to work as a partnership and as one."

"They are just like people, sometimes the get in a bad mood and don't want to listen." said Andrea Pacas. "That is when it gets hard and you have to teach them to be good."

The lessons have worked.

In their first year competing in the Interscholastic Equestrial Association, the East Texans have qualified for the national championships in New York State.

They won a zone competition to qualify for the nationals.

"It is pretty exciting, at first I was like, 'are we really going?' said Kirkpatrick. "It kicked in after a while, so I'm really excited."

"I was really shocked, I did not think that our first year would go that well, but when it did, we were all really happy and we can't wait for New York," said Mary B. Gabriel.

Where they will ride against the best in the country.

"We get to represent not just us in Tyler, but us as Texans up there in New York," said Pacas.

"You feel like you've become big time," joked Jones.

And the horses, they agree.

The IEA Nationals are held in Syracuse, New York.

They begin on April 19th.

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