LIFE CONSTANTLY THROWS disappointments our way, doesn’t it? Learning positive ways to overcome problems, is why it’s important to surround ourselves — especially our youths — with positive-thinking role members, be it upbuilding family, friends, coaches and/or mentors.
It’s one reason why I’m supportive of family-oriented horse groups, such as 4-H, Washington High School Equestrian Teams and Patterned Speed Horse.
I think of all the good life lessons Sequim’s high school equestrian team has learned this year, through a season fraught with horse injuries and lameness issues, as well as a horse dying. All setbacks that could have resulted in members becoming discouraged and dropping out. And despite the state finals not ending on the high note all hoped for, I congratulate the entire team for following their goal to be among those competing against the best riders from all of Washington state’s high school equestrian teams!
During each tragedy Coach Katie Newton, whom I laud for being one of the most positive role models and avid youth supporters I know, acknowledged the problem and then sprang into action by reaching out to other horse owners to find trained horses to borrow. She coached and encouraged her kids every step of the way, without pushing these borrowed horses beyond what their body was capable, teaching the patience required while their muscles were slowly built up to race and show condition.
“All of the girls had to be really flexible this season, and especially the last week at the finals,” said Katie. “We ended up having to cancel our drill team for Freestyle Fours because we only had two of the four horses able to go, which was very sad.”
I’d like to point out Katie is a volunteer, who has dedicated years, decades even, of her time — and her own money — helping other people’s kids. I hope the parents of those many, many youths can take a moment to thank her as I know she’d like to retire in the next couple of years.
Katie reminded me how Paige and Libby won high point buckles during the season, so their expectations were high for the finals. However, they both had to use backup and borrowed horses, so were disappointed they didn’t perform as well as hoped. Yet, they still did really well with Paige placing 4th in Steer Daubing and Libby 6th in Breakaway Roping.
Kennedy was also on a borrowed horse, but was able to get a few practices in before the meet. Katelynn, who is Katie’s niece, spent the whole season switching horses because of injuries. Tragically, one horse even passed away at a young age due to heart failure. Thankfully, she got a new horse, Sophie, in time to compete in meet three, where she qualified for the state finals. They came in sixth place in Saddleseat equitation at the finals.
Celbie had to keep her horse Beau on stall rest for the whole middle of the season after he cut his coronet band, but thankfully, he recovered in time to compete at the finals.
“It was quite a crazy year for our team with horses being injured, or sick, and one passing away,” said Coach Katie. “But we made it through!”
She said everyone had a good attitude, with many horse owners, coaches and even friends on a competing team stepping in to provide horses for the girls.
It gladdened my heart when I heard Paige Reed got to compete on horses borrowed from Dunkin and Samantha Parks (grandchildren of Agnew residents “Super rider” Sam and Donna Parks) even though they were at the finals competing for a different district.
I’ve watched them compete, starting when they were toddlers being led through the courses at Patterned Speed shows held at the Crosby’s arena by their grandfather. At the May 6 show I was able to see what talented and skillful riders Samantha, 15, and Duncan, 17, have become.
At the show Sam told me how blessed he felt to have his entire family there, including his wife Donna, daughter Jessica (competing) son Jamie and his wife Melonie (who’ve become PSHA leaders, organizers and worker bees) while their kids, Duncan and Samantha, compete. I so enjoying hearing Jamie’s super smooth voice coming overs the speaker announcing events and run times, as well as spouting fun facts and banter.
Steer Daubing: 4th Paige Reed
Breakaway Roping: 6th Libby Swanberg
Saddle Seat: 6th Katelynn Sharpe
Team Cattle Sorting: 11th Libby, Celbie Karjalainen
Team Canadian Flags: 5th Libby, Sydney Hutton, Kennady Gilbertson, Paige
Team Birangle: 18th Sydney Kennady; 23rd Libby, Paige
Working Pairs: 17th Katelynn, Celbie
Barrel Racing: 28th Kennady; 39th Paige
Figure 8: 17th Gilbertson; 21st Swanberg
Keyhole: 10th Gilbertson; 20th Reed
Individual Flags: 14th Reed; 21st Swanberg
Help for horses
The 3rd Annual OPEN the Trails fundraiser to fill the hay barn for the year, and campout at Layton Hill Horse Camp, located at 2514 Chicken Coop Road in Sequim, kicks off on Saturday, July 29, at 2 p.m. Join the group for games, raffle prizes, demonstrations by equine professionals, dinner, camp fire social and live music.
Come for the afternoon and evening or camp out and explore the trails.
All proceeds go to benefit OPEN, the Olympic Peninsula’s premier horse rescue organization. “We hope to be able to fill our barn this summer with a year’s worth of hay like we did last year,” said Valerie Jackson, co-founder. Tickets are $50 for adults (kids are free with paid adult) and available at www.olypenequinennet.org. Click donations and select Event Tickets.
If camping reservations are required. Book at www.hipcamp.com and select Layton Hill.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.