Student Club Targets Equine Lovers

Vaughn Miller polo 1 copy
Vaughn Miller competes regularly at Prestonwood Polo Club near Little Elm. (Photo courtesy Prestonwood Polo Club and Ming Yang, Plano Photography Club)

While their experiences in the saddle are much different, it was a shared passion for horses that started the friendship of Vaughn Miller and Elysse Bradford.

The two Highland Park High School sophomores believe there are plenty of classmates with a similar affinity for horsing around, which is why they are launching an equestrian club at HPHS beginning this fall.

“I was just trying to spread my love of horses around the school,” Miller said. “Not too many people talk about horses.”

Bradford rides Tennessee Walking Horses, specializing in equitation. She has won several awards at events throughout the country with her four horses, which are stabled in Kaufman.

Miller, meanwhile, is one of the top youth polo players in Texas who competes out of Prestonwood Polo Club, a facility owned by his family near Little Elm. He acquired his love of the sport from his father and competes regularly in youth tournaments.

The two teenagers were introduced by their mothers, who are acquaintances, and decided to form a club to promote their hobbies and raise money for Equest, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic riding classes for people with disabilities.

“All the people who ride, I think they’ll want to join,” Miller said. “It’s more fun when you’re doing it with people your own age.”

Miller and Bradford collaborated on all of the planning and paperwork — including a detailed financial plan, a board structure, philanthropic goals, and faculty sponsorship — and gained approval from the HPHS administration prior to the spring deadline for new clubs.

“It was a small-business plan, basically,” said Kathleen Bradford, Elysse’s mother. “It takes a lot to get everything together.”

So far, they have five members, and they expect to grow significantly as word spreads once school starts. Equine ownership is not required to join, and neither is the ability to ride or compete.

“There’s some sports that are widely publicized, but they don’t know a lot about what we do,” Bradford said. “They might not want to compete, but they can still experience it. I think anyone who has an interest will have a lot of fun.”

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