In 2006, Amanda Cook decided to create a team that would showcase horsemanship and provide riders with a group of friends to share a passion for horses.

In 2006, Amanda Cook decided to create a team that would showcase horsemanship and provide riders with a group of friends to share a passion for horses.
This was how the Silver Buckle Drill Team was born. Since its creation, riders have come and gone but one thing remains the same: The team is a family.
“These kids make the team so special,” Silver Buckle Drill Team coach Ken Hucksoll said. “These kids grew up together. They know each other, go to school together. They’re like a family, and they get along like a family.”
The team travels around Kansas performing choreographed routines atop horses. This team’s shows include flag routines with synchronized horse and rider movements. Tricks atop the horses can include standing on moving and stationary horses as well as jumps and hangings from the horses.
The team comprises 10 riders. The youngest, Peyton Terrell, is only 5 years old, with the oldest member being 47. This year for the first time, the team conducted tryouts and gained three new riders. There are nine females and one male on the team this year.
Jared Goering, a 16-year-old McPherson High School junior, has been with the drill team since he was 10 years old.
“We’re a tight-knit group,” Jared said. “It really is like its own little family.”
Choreographing and learning a routine without 1,000 pound animals is hard enough, but routines including their horses provide their own special set of challenges for the team to overcome. The horses, just like the riders, have to become familiar with each other. Many of the horses on the team have been working together for five years or longer, and introducing them to the new horses on the team can be difficult.
It takes a lot of skill to ride on the drill team. The riders not only have to know the basics of horseback riding, but also have to know the finer points of maneuvering and controlling the animal.
When choreographing a routine, the team comes up with an idea and then draws it on paper. Before ever bringing the horses into the equation, the riders repeatedly practice the routine on foot. Then eventually they practice on horseback. The design process can take up to a couple months. When coming up on a show, the team works around the many team member’s schedules to practice twice a week.
“It’s hard to memorize the routine with the horse,” Jared said. “And you hope nothing goes wrong at the actual rodeo.”
Along with challenges come the many positive aspects of riding with the team. When the team performs at the Kaw Valley Rodeo in Manhattan, Kansas, the team gets housed in a hotel with one family member, paid for by the rodeo, and they get meals for free. It is also the only performance for which they are paid.
“They really do get treated like royalty there,” Hucksoll said. As well as being the coach of the team, Hucksoll’s daughter and wife both ride on the team.
Riding on the team also gives them a sense of confidence as well as a support system. The team captain, 18-year-old Cassie Goering, said performing in so many shows has given her the confidence to go out and talk to people and not feel embarrassed.
Cassie has been on the team since it began eight years ago, though this is her first year as captain.
“It’s hard trying to accommodate everyone’s schedules and trying to please everyone,” Cassie said. “But I love getting to ride, making friends and meeting so many new people.”
Cassie will be attending college in the fall at Colby Community College, but she doesn’t plan on letting that slow her down. She will continue to be a member of the drill team.
“It’s a serious commitment, but she’s serious about it,” Hucksoll said.
This year the team has performed five shows, including one at the McPherson Saddle Club Rodeo. Its next appearance will be at the When Pigs Fly Barbecue Contest Aug. 22 and 23.
Other team members include team co-captain, Jordan Babcock; team chaplain, Tisa Burton; Grace Hucksoll; Jordi Bailey; Teagan Pacey; Shelby Nichols; Linda Helmer; and Margaret Hucksoll
“This team is so much fun, and they really are a family,” Hucksoll said. “We experience things as they come and handle them together.”