Riding like the wind: What it is like to be on the WSU equestrian team

English and Western disciplines come together to make one team

English+members+left+to+right%3A+Gracie+Johnston%2C+Kierra+Flaherty%2C+Ruby+Buckholz.

Courtesy of Morgyn Glaser

English members left to right: Gracie Johnston, Kierra Flaherty, Ruby Buckholz.

GABRIELLE BOWMAN, Evergreen reporter

The WSU equestrian team has a group of dedicated people who love to feel free and ride.

The team practices five days a week and there are two different sections of the team that include the English and Western discipline. Both sections ride twice a week then at the end of the week will join together to ride, said Kierra Flaherty, the equestrian teams’ president and senior accounting major.

While practices are formal they use one day to come together as one and hang out with each other and do what they all love to do, which is ride. 

Typically for the team’s showcases, they will perform at their barn in Moscow. During these showcases there will be demonstrations from each discipline’s captains and the coach of the English section, Laura Moore, will specifically do an English section demonstration for audiences. 

The showcases the team holds are a way for teammates, their parents and anyone from the university and beyond to come support the team and to see where the team is performance-wise. It is also a reason to meet them and see the horses, Flaherty said. 

Each section specializes in different performances. Specifically, the English team performs jumping, and the Western team deals with rail work and raining at the highest level riders, she said. 

Courtesy of Kierra Flaherty
Jayden Scott on Rico, demonstrating at our 2021 Fall Banquet.

Many different sports require dedication, time and effort, however one thing that all of the people on the team have is a passion for riding. Flaherty describes her practice as a time to enjoy riding but it is more than just the sport to her.

Riding a horse is based on individual skill and performance however, having a team dedicated to riding they get to work together and compete together. It is a group of people that are there to support everyone individually. The team goes through absolutely everything together. It is a plus side to having the team, said Taylor Heimbigner, the Western captain senior animal science major.

Riding a horse is an experience that you can not explain. It is about connecting with an animal that can just as easily hurt you or give you an amazing time to be with them, Heimbigner said. 

Courtesy of Kierra Flaherty
English Coach Laura Moore giving English member Gracie Johnston a jump course.

The team has a circle not just here at WSU but a circle that expands to all equestrian lovers and horse lovers alike. The feeling of the wind in your face, the freedom of riding on an open pastor, and the blood sweat and tears that go into showcases are what make up the Equestrian team as a whole. 

“I like seeing all of the girls. We all share the same passion for riding, so it is super nice having our own little community and our own little family out there,” Flaherty said.