The Port Angeles High School equestrian team is made up of

The Port Angeles High School equestrian team is made up of

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Leaving homestead stirs memories

AHH, YES, THE days of wine and roses — or extended sunshine and warmer temperatures — are among us and glorious for riding.

Normally, I’d be out on the trails; however, this past month, I’ve kept busy getting our beloved homestead ready to sell.

With my mom widowed a little over a year ago, my sister living in her own place in town and the grandchildren grown and gone, it’s time to downsize to a smaller place in Sequim, with acreage for horses and dogs of course.

Selling our little sanctuary is bittersweet — bitter because we’re leaving but sweet knowing another family will experience their own joys and memories here as their family grows.

I admit that my heart still skips a beat with excitement whenever I drive up Hooker Road to home. Nineteen years later, I still find the home, the land and the breathtaking views of Mount Baker, the San Juan Islands and the night lights of Victoria a treasure.

And whenever I see a double rainbow glimmering over us, it seems a sure sign we live in “God’s country.”

It’s been the ideal home for our multi-general family. My folks had the main floor; my sister and her children enjoyed their privacy in the multiple bedrooms downstairs; and I had my own little cottage. Just perfect.

Neither of my folks was interested riding a horse, yet they often thanked me for bringing them the joy and serenity that came from sitting on the deck to watch the horses graze in the pasture — often alongside deer — or watching either my niece or me ride in the arena below.

I still get a chuckle recalling my nephews when young, out in the pasture with their shovels furiously digging dirt to make jumps and then riding their dirt-bikes over them and around the horses, who loved all the activity.

It’s been an incredible experience living here next to the expansive trail system of Department of Natural Resources’ Cassidy Creek, but as this door closes, I’m looking forward to the next door opening to new adventures.

High school teams

Port Angeles’ and Sequim’s Washington State High School Equestrian Teams have completed their final meet of the season.

Port Angeles coach Tina VanAusdle said it was “an awesome season” in which “the athletes did a great job and we had a ton of fun.”

This is the first year they haven’t experienced freezing rain and snow as in years past, and what a relief that must have been.

When my niece was on the Sequim team, I spent many miserable hours freezing and shivering in the stands, even with my own propane heater. At the same time though, I thoroughly enjoyed supporting her and the team.

This year, all the ­WAHSET qualifying meets were held at the Tacoma unit in Spanaway. The state finals are May 14-17 in Moses Lake.

The Oregon-Washington invitational will be held later in Monroe.

Each athlete has to place in the top three from two meets in an event to qualify for state finals in that event.

Port Angeles

■   Barrels — Micayla Weider, first place for season, earning her the gold medal; Emily VanAusdle, fourth place and state qualifier.

■ Figure eight — Emily VanAusdle, silver medal; Micayla, sixth and state qualifier.

■ Birangle team event — Micayla and Emily VanAusdle, gold medal.

■ Cow sorting team event — Emily VanAusdle and Ciara Gentry, gold medal. They also had a record-breaking district time.

■ Freestyle fours drill team — Micayla, Emily VanAusdle, Cassidy Hodgin and Ciara, silver medal and state qualifiers.

They are looking forward to competing at state finals and hope to qualify for the invitational in Monroe.

Sadly, this might be Tina’s last year coaching the PA team as her daughter, Emily, is a graduating senior.

“It’s been a great four years for us,” said Tina. “Yet, if there are any horse kids that are getting ready to start high school and are thinking about joining WAHSET, I tell them to call me.”

Tina can be reached at 360-460-0791.

Tina also wants to thank drill team coach Haley Hodgin for “getting these girls to state for several years in a row.”

Haley is a former WAHSET member who also competed at the state finals in individual events and drill team.


Congratulations to all the members of Sequim’s equestrian team.

Heidi Schleiger of Chimacum: Amanda Murphy, Abi Payseno, Haylie Newton, Kelly Anders and Sydney Balkan, all of Sequim; and Kaytee Gibeau of Port Townsend and qualified for state finals either as gold, silver or bronze medalists or as alternates under Katie Newton’s coaching.

Events, qualifiers, medals for the Sequim team are:

■ Cattle sorting — Sydney, silver; Amanda, bronze; and Haylie, bronze.

■ Cattle sorting and trail — Kaytee, silver.

■ Saddleseat — Kaytee, gold.

■ Steer daubing — Haylie, bronze.

Today from 3 p.m. to

4 p.m., all are invited to watch the Sequim WAHSET drill team exhibition at Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road in Agnew. Come and see what the sport is all about, and view their precision drill team.

If you or anyone you know is interested in joining the team next year, contact coach Katie at 360-775-0350.


■   Today, noon — Jen Verharen dressage and jumping clinic at Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road, Agnew. To sign up, email

For more information, phone 360-457-4897 or visit

■   Today, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. — Sequim WAHSET drill team exhibition, Freedom Farm. Phone 360-457-4897 or visit

■   Friday through Sunday, April 17-19 — Jefferson County Horse Project’s annual equine dental clinic with Dr. Richard Vetter at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

For information or to schedule an appointment, contact Betty Mysak at or 360-379-6931.

■   Saturday, April 18, 9 a.m. — Olympic Peninsula Equine Network is hosting another vet clinic with Dr. Sean Tuley at 554 Roupe Road in Sequim.

There are only a couple float spots still available, but Dr. Tuley can do other veterinary procedures as well.

For more information, phone 360-207-1688.

■   Sunday, April 19, 9 a.m. — Baker Stables Schooling Show, 164 Four Winds Road, Port Angeles. Contact Dana or Tom King at 360-457-6039 or 360-460-7832.

■   Sunday, April 19, noon-3 p.m. — Cowmanship clinic, Freedom Farm. Phone 360-457-4897 or visit

■   Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m. — Peninsula chapter of Back Country Horsemen, Salt Creek Spaghetti Ride. Contact Kris Phillips at 360-683-7629.

■   Sunday, April 26, noon-3 p.m. — Adult horsemanship, Freedom Farm. Phone 360-457-4897 or visit


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Sunday.

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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