Not just horsing around: Becca Crislip and Natalie Sharp participate in Grand Entry Team


Jackie Crislip//The Scroll

Becca Crislip (10) glances at the camera during a Grand Entry Team performance on October 10. Crislip and Natalie Sharp (10) perform with the group at rodeos, horse shows, and other functions.

Some dream of performing in front of crowd-packed stands with glaring lights streaming down on them. For Becca Crislip (10) and Natalie Sharp (10), performing in front of large crowds is a reality with two notable additions – a dirt floor and a 1,200 pound horse. Welcome to the Old West Special Trails Grand Entry Team. 

Our [Old West Special Trails] Grand Entry team combines speed, agility, coordination and excellent riding skills choreographed into intricate patterns and performed to music,” says the Grand Entry Team’s website. 

Crislip has been a part of the Grand Entry team for two years, while Sharp joined this year. 

“Online school was definitely a big part [of my decision to join the team] because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do anything, so I was just like ‘Why don’t I join Grand Entry?’ and another big part was to start going out to the barn more to spend more time with my horses,” Sharp said. 

Both have a long history with riding horses; Crislip has been riding for seven years, and Sharp has been riding for eight. Their expertise is essential for the group. 

“You definitely need to be an experienced rider to join one [Grand Entry Team] cause it is really fast-paced most of the time,” Sharp said. 

The routines that the group performs are far from easy. For Crislip, they are one of the most challenging aspects of being on the Grand Entry Team.

 “…It takes forever to get the routines that we do down, cause you have to do it fast, cause if you do it slow it’s boring. So you have to do it fast but you have to keep your pacing and make it look good,” Crislip said. 

While the team practices every week and performs on many weekends, it does not compete. Mostly, the Grand Entry Team travels around the Memphis area or to Mississippi to showcase their skills. 

“The team is invited to either open a show and pump up the audience or they could be the halftime entertainment for the audience,” coach Debbie Cooley said. “Sometimes we also do the national anthem and American flag, Christian flag presentation. We have done rodeos, The Germantown Charity Horse Show, Dixie Nationals, St. Jude Barrel Jam, parades, and other local horse shows.” 

Not only has the Grand Entry Team made an impact on the community, but it has positively affected Crislip and Sharp, as well. 

“It’s given me… better leadership skills because, especially on my team right now… most everyone on that team is new, except for me and a couple of other people, … I lead almost all the routines we do,” Crislip said. “So it’s given me a better sense of leadership because then I can go help the new people because I know what they should be doing…” 

For Sharp, the Grand Entry Team has allowed her to grow as a person and as a rider. 

“Being on the Grand Entry Team has definitely helped me become more responsible,” Sharp said, “I stopped going to the barn for a while, and it really helped me get out and get back to riding horses, which I really needed to, because that’s my hobby and I really love it.” 

See the Grand Entry Team in action here: