Sequim high school equestrian team coaches Bettina Hoesel, right, and Katie Newton are ready to start this year’s team practices. For more information about joining the team contact them at

Sequim high school equestrian team coaches Bettina Hoesel, right, and Katie Newton are ready to start this year’s team practices. For more information about joining the team contact them at [email protected]

HORSEPLAY: Keep up to date with local groups

Get involved with 4-H, other area horse organizations

HI HO, HI Ho, it’s off to school kids go.

Now we’re free to go and ride — screech! Whoa, Nellie! Groan.

There’s a new reality that has many of us sadly singing:

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, I’m teaching my kids at home,

Gone is my freedom to say goodbye and ride,

Hi Ho, Hi Ho?

Yessiree, it’s the start of a strange new school year. Virtual learning translates into parents — be it moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles or even foster parents — having to forego their usual back-to-school celebrations, like meeting friends for a nice long trail ride, and teaching their kids at home.

Life’s certainly become more difficult in many ways since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I certainly have empathy, and even a bit of fear for, those who’ve had no choice but to leave their children at home alone while they go to work.

I, too, have struggled with having a child at home all day, and trying to homeschool, since schools closed last March. My young grand-nephew Isaac, 7, suffers from hyper ADHD, and without the structured life he had while physically going to school, frankly, it became too much effort for me and eventually I, like many other parents, gave up.

This year, again, it falls on the parents to teach. Isaac only has a virtual class with his teacher twice a week for one hour. The rest of the time he is supposed to log in each school day, and that counts as attendance, and submit his work online. Parents can arrange to drop it off outside the school.

I felt more frustrated after his elementary school teacher told me they aren’t trying to teach anything new, but “just trying to retain what they’ve already learned.”

Regardless, I’m now struggling to set up a home-schooling schedule for Isaac. Thankfully, one of my nieces, Ashley Griffiths, just drove up for an extended visited with her toddler, Jayden, to help me out. Graciously, she’s offered to take over his schooling while here. I feel for the great many parents who don’t have help, or worse, both have to work during the day so they have no choice but to leave their kids alone at home.


A few parents, I’ve heard, have formed their own pods, or teams, in which they meet in alternate homes to co-teach their kids, which I think is a wonderful solution. In the past, parents of kids in same classrooms often “met” and talked through Facebook, so perhaps others can use it to form a cooperative teaching group, too.

Facebook also serves as a place to keep up to date and in touch with various horse groups on the Peninsula. For Western game riders, there’s Patterned Speed Horse Association (our local chapter is PSHA Olympic Region). For trail riders, there’s Olympic Peninsula Riders, and the local Back Country Horsemen chapters Buckhorn Range (Jefferson County based), Peninsula (Sequim- and PA-based) and Mt. Olympus (PA and the West end).

Specifically for youth riders, we have Clallam County horse 4-H and Jefferson County WA 4-H — both held virtual end-of-year shows this year, which I found both strange and sad. I sure do admire those youths for finding a way to reach their goals!

I like to encourage families to become part of a local 4-H club. It’s free, and there are many interests and programs to choose from. Of course, I am partial to horse 4-H. Even if you don’t own a horse, we have wonderful local leaders and supporters who can usually help find a horse your child can use for the program. We want more youths involved with horses and learning good horsemanship! For more information in Clallam County, contact Melanie Greer, 4-H Program Coordinator, at 360- 417-2398 or 360-912-2062, or email [email protected] In Jefferson County, contact Program Contact: 4-H Coordinator, website

In Jefferson County, call 360-379-5610, ext. 208, or email [email protected]

Visit the website jefferson/youth/4-hclubs_projects/horses.

On Facebook, you can also find the local chapter of U.S. Pony Club, Equitese Pony Club, which offers a very informative and goal-orientated program for youth and adult equestrians. For more information, visit the

Please do let me know if your group isn’t on my list so I can include it.

High school team

The Sequim high school equestrian team is gearing up to start the new school year. The group competes in Washington State High School Equestrian Teams, or WAHSET, and is part District 4, along with eight or nine other teams in WAHSET.

Team coaches Katie Newton and Bettina Hoesel already have the Newton’s arena ground groomed and ready to practice in.

“We are really excited to start our 2020-2021 season!” said Katie.

In reference to how much space a horse needs she added, “Being an outdoor sport where we have to stay at least six feet apart naturally, it makes it easy for us to follow the state and local health guidelines for our sport.”

Sequim Equestrian Team competes in Washington State High School Equestrian Team competitions. The WAHSET rulebook states:

Competing members must have at least some skills and equine competition experience. Competing members are required to participate in 80 percent of all weekly practices from October-May and are required to compete at all three district meets (as long as they do not violate rules that would prohibit competition).

Non-competing members are those new to the sport or who have never competed.

Sometimes athletes choose to be non-competing as to eliminate conflict with other sports or commitments even if they are experienced with equines. Non-competing members come to as many practices possible during the season (80 percent required to receive the high school’s athletic letter) but do not compete at any meets during the season.

Sequim’s team practices every Monday and Thursday at Freedom Farms, 493 Spring Road in East Port Angeles, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. from October through May.

Athletes desiring to join the Sequim Equestrian Team need to have read the rulebook, along with:

1. A completed paper copy of the Athlete Registration form.

2. A completed paper copy of the Goals and Evaluation form.

3. A paper copy of both sides of your health insurance card (do not send it electronically).

4. The parent or guardian needs to fill out the Non-athlete/Parent Code of Conduct form.

5. A check written to SET (not WAHSET).

• Non-competing members joining by 9/20/20 is $100.

• Competing members joining by 9/20/20 is $225

• Non-competing members joining between 9/21/20 and 10/20/20 pay $120.

• Competing members joining between 9/21/20 and 10/20/20 is $265.

6. A signed Sequim Team Code of Conduct packet (given directly to you by Katie or Bettina) with the signatures of the athlete and all parents, guardians and adults attending practices and/or meets.

The rulebook and forms can be found at For more information email the coaches at [email protected] or phone Katie at 360-775-0350.

As of this writing no one has officially stepped up to coach the Port Angeles, but I could be announcing a coach soon.

It’s long been my hope someone will step up to organize a team for Jefferson County. Anyone?


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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