This year’s Sequim High School equestrian team members are Faith Haggie, Grace Niemeyer, Emelie Fürste, Amy Tucker, Christina Williams, Miranda Williams, Yana Hoesel, Amanda Murphy, Sydney Balkan, Abi Payseno, Madi Murphy and Lilly Thomas. The girls are show at a training session at Freedom Farm in Port Angeles. (Katie Solomon-Newton)

This year’s Sequim High School equestrian team members are Faith Haggie, Grace Niemeyer, Emelie Fürste, Amy Tucker, Christina Williams, Miranda Williams, Yana Hoesel, Amanda Murphy, Sydney Balkan, Abi Payseno, Madi Murphy and Lilly Thomas. The girls are show at a training session at Freedom Farm in Port Angeles. (Katie Solomon-Newton)

PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Griffith’s horses fear holiday lights display


That’s what my horses must have been thinking when my neighbor’s Christmas lights display lights up the sky come nightfall.

In full view of their new shelter, the sparkling and twinkling multicolored bulbs surround their house with an array of brightly lit displays in their front yard.

I see both horses flee to the farthest part of their pasture, snorting and prancing, the moment the lights come alive in the evening.

The first night the lights were turned on, I couldn’t figure out why the horses weren’t gleefully galloping toward me as I threw out their nightly meal of luscious Orchard grass hay.

When it dawned on me they were scared of the lights, I thought, “How silly of them. It’s only lights.”

Then it occurred to me they’ve never seen a display of Christmas lights before.

For the 20 years we lived at our previous home, it was at the end of a quiet street with each neighbor acres away from each other, and I don’t recall anyone putting up more than a few lights — if any — so it does make sense they’re frightened by them.

I imagine they’ll get used to the nightly display soon, but I’m sure they will never trust those “aliens.”

Equestrian teams

Our Washington State High School Equestrian Teams are busy practicing for their first competition, to be held Jan. 27-29 in Spanaway.

I want to give a gigantic shout of thanks to Freedom Farm owner Mary Gallagher for donating use of the indoor arena for both the Sequim team (Mondays 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Port Angeles (Tuesdays 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) teams to practice.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and her generosity gives these riders and horses safe, good ground to practice on regardless of the weather.

These teams survive independently of the school system; thus the students have to pay for their own costs to compete, and it’s not cheap.

Traveling to shows, staying overnight and uniforms are expensive, so fundraisers are an important way to support these youths.

On Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Sequim equestrian team is having a McTakover at Sequim’s McDonalds.

Please mark the date and time on your calendar so you too can help all those on the team have the means to compete.

For more information about Sequim’s team, contact coach Katie Newton at 360-775-0350.

For Port Angeles, contact coach Tina VanAusdale at 360-460-0791

Freedom Farms events

• Feet First: Hoof Care Class with Jerry Schmidt, part 2 — Sunday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s OK if you missed the first class.

Schmidt will teach anatomy of the foot, then coach participants hands-on with our lesson horses or your own horse.

Bring your own tools.

For beginners, you can get by with just a rasp, and we have a few rasps to loan. The cost for the class is $55.

• Clinic with Sally Collins of Collinswood Farm — Monday, Dec. 19, and Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Collins is a professional equitation and hunter judge and coach.

For more information, contact Gallagher at 360-457-4897, 164 Spring Farms Road, Port Angeles, or visit the

Helping hands

“Horses & Humanity” is Olympic Peninsula Equine Network’s (OPEN) theme for this year.

As Clallam County’s only horse rescue operation, each year, OPEN takes in a number of horses because their owners are no longer able to care for them due to serious health issues.

Some horses are returned when their owner’s health improves, and others are placed in new homes at the owner’s request.

Each horse helped has its own story, but OPEN’s goal remains the same: to rehabilitate and eventually place them in adoptive or foster homes.

Founders Diane Royall and Valerie Jackson always do their best to help horses in need, but unfortunately, sometimes they must turn horses away due to limited space and resources.

“We aren’t a sanctuary, as much as we would love to offer retirement homes to horses that have earned them; we just don’t have the space,” Jackson said.

“The best we can do is to attempt to find what we call Golden Retirement foster homes for these older horses and offer annual tax-deductible donation receipts to help cover their care and expenses under our 501(c)(3) nonprofit umbrella.”

For almost 10 years, OPEN has operated entirely on private property and relied on foster homes to take in horses in need.

In 2014, the organization was able to negotiate a long- term lease on a few acres in Sequim.

Thanks to donations, a shelter for horses to stand under went up in 2015.

“This year, we fundraised to build a new hay barn and it went up in August,” Jackson said.

“Thank you to all who helped with these projects. Moving forward, we will be building more paddocks and an enclosed tack and supply building.”

Thanks to donations, OPEN has continued to grow and provide for horses in crisis.

All donations are tax-deductible. Mail donations to OPEN at P.O. Box 2532, Sequim, WA 98382.

Call 360-207-1688 or visit the


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 at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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