With recent approval by Burbank Unified school officials, local teens will go head-to-head against hundreds of others during the Interscholastic Equestrian League's first horse show of the season.
During a Burbank school board meeting last week, parents and teens appealed to school officials as they sought their permission to allow Burbank students to become league members.
Among them was Burroughs High senior Sabrina Wrabley, a transplant from Pennsylvania who has ridden horses since she was 4 years old. She said she wanted to compete on behalf of her high school before graduating next year.
“Horseback riding is really my one true passion,” she said.
With an additional push by the Interscholastic Equestrian League, school officials worked quickly to line up the legal paperwork required for students to participate.
Because students will become members of the league, Burbank Unified is requiring that each schools' equestrian club become self-insured through the league under a $2-million policy per school.
So far, students at Burroughs, as well as Luther Burbank and Jordan middle schools, have expressed interest in establishing clubs, said Emilio Urioste, director of secondary education for Burbank Unified.
“There's a great deal of excitement in coming together and supporting these young people and their parents in something they really enjoy doing,” he said.
The district will also require that students sign a consent form that would keep Burbank Unified from being liable in the event of an accident or loss.
Riders from dozens of schools, including La Cañada, Glendale and Crescenta Valley high schools, are already league members.
Karen Davis, who is secretary of the Interscholastic Equestrian League, said 300 teenage girls are set to compete on Sunday.
Burbank school board members were glad the district could act quickly to fold Burbank schools into the mix.
“We were probably hard-pressed not to find a way to make it work, seeing as three of our neighboring districts have been doing it for quite some time,” said school board member Larry Applebaum, referring to La Cañada, Glendale and South Pasadena school districts.
“We are a horse community in a lot of ways, and why wouldn't you want to provide [equestrian league membership to] people who enjoy that, pursue it … I just don't see the downside,” Applebaum added.
Fellow school board member Charlene Tabet said she supported the students' participation so they would be eligible to apply for scholarships through college and university equestrian teams.
“That's why I thought it was important,” Tabet said. “So these kids have an opportunity, not to just be part of an equestrian team, but to further their college career.”
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.