Many middle school students are involved in sports. Not many of those student-athletes find their competition taking them all the way to Europe. Meghan Rose, an 8th grader at Portland Middle School, who is a member of the Great Lakes Equestrian Vaulting team will be traveling to France over the Easter holiday to compete.
According to Coach Michelle McLean, “Meaghan is naturally talented and is one of those kids who never complains. She works extremely hard and is a leader on our team. She has a great attitude and a witty sense of humor.” Meaghan’s mom, Kimberly Rose adds that, “we are super proud of Meaghan and her dedication to her sport. She works exceptionally hard…”
Due to Meaghan’s busy schedule of classes, and practices, the Beacon interview her via e-mail. The following interview excerpts have been edited for length and clarity.
BEACON: Can you tell our readers a bit about the competition in France you will be participating in? What did you have to do to qualify?
ROSE: The competition in France is a Concours Voltige International or “CVI” competition. A CVI is where vaulters can earn qualifying points for the next world championships. They are also a way for advanced vaulters to experience the honor of representing their country at an international level. There will be several hundred vaulters at this particular competition.
BEACON: I assume you will be competing riding your own horse. How do you travel with a large animal like a horse?
ROSE: Vaulting at any level is about the partnership...with their horse. We know their gait, their likes, and dislikes, and often, we have tailored our entire vaulting style around our equine partners.
When we travel, however, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of toting our horses along with us-especially to Europe! Vaulting is the only equine sport where athletes can borrow horses from other vaulting teams...
BEACON: Can you describe equestrian vaulting for those not familiar with it?
ROSE: Equestrian vaulting...is best described as dance and gymnastics on the back of a moving horse.
BEACON: Is vaulting a solo competition or team sort of event?
ROSE: Vaulters can compete as an individual or as a team, and all are required to do a compulsory and a freestyle routine. I am traveling with a few of my teammates, and we plan to compete as individuals.
BEACON: What is training is like for you?
ROSE: I train almost every day. On Mondays, I have a dance class at Miller in Motion. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays I practice for two and a half hours (sometimes more) at the barn, both on the horse and barrel, doing drills and conditioning. On Wednesdays, I work out with a personal trainer, Randy Holt, and he is amazing. Twice a month, I have riding lessons that help me with moving and balancing with the horse. Finally, I have “virtual” training with Daniel James (one of the top vaulters in the US) twice a month.
BEACON: How did you first get involved in competitive equestrian?
ROSE: I used to do flying trapeze but when we moved to Michigan we couldn't find a place to do that. My mom and I started looking around for a new sport for me to do. We went to the Stallion Expo at MSU and there was a demo about equestrian vaulting. It looked really interesting so I decided to try it and fell in love!
BEACON: What sort of horse do you ride? How long have you been a team?
ROSE: Our team has two vaulting horses, a big grey Percheron named Jethro and a grey Oldenburg named Rhapsody. Both are trained three to five days a week under saddle and then vaulted on two times per week at our practices. They are athletes too and require a lot of training to build strength and balance to be able to carry a vaulter while cantering in a lunging circle.
BEACON: When you aren't vaulting how do you like to spend your time?
ROSE: When I have free time, I like to hang with my friends, see movies, eat sushi with my mom, and watch TV. I spend a lot of my free time doing homework. I’m taking French and Algebra which are 9th-grade classes (I’m in 8th grade) so I have to work harder to keep my grades up.
BEACON: What are your plans and goals for the future as far as equestrian competition?
ROSE: My short term goal is to compete for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in 2021. Long term, I want to vault in the World Equestrian Games and (hopefully), the Olympics. Equestrian vaulting is not currently an Olympic sport, but we're hoping that one day it will be. Vaulting is currently being considered for the Youth Olympic Games, which is an incubator for the Olympic Games.
BEACON: What are your plans or goals for the future after high school?
ROSE: My plan is to go on to college for Pre-Med, then on to medical school where I want to specialize in neurosurgery. My education is my priority, but I think I can pursue both my dreams with hard work.
Megan’s coach Michelle McLean says she is, “...honored [to] have such a talented, great athlete on my team! Her future is bright and I have no doubt she will reach her goals and be a gold medal winner for the USA on the elite world stage in vaulting.” Megan’s mom concurs adding that, “she does it all on her own! [For instance] when it was suggested that she take dance lessons, she jumped right to it. She even works on Wednesdays, as a teacher assistant, to pay for her lessons! Vaulting is teaching Meaghan that she can do whatever she puts her mind to.”
To compete in France this coming spring, Meaghan needs to raise $2000-2500. Readers can contribute trough a GoFundMe account set up in Meaghan’s name.
PHOTOS: Meghan Rose competing in the national championships earlier this year, in which she finished 17th. Courtesy Kimberly Rose.