Back on the saddle again

WSU’s Equestrian Team competes against rival schools in either Western or English styles of competition

%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+a+really+supportive+atmosphere+since+we%E2%80%99re+all+competing+as+a+team%2C%E2%80%9D+Western-style+captain+Natalie+Hayes+said.+%E2%80%9CWe%E2%80%99re+all+really+trying+to+work+together+to+push+each+other+forward+and+grow+as+riders.%E2%80%9D

COURTESY OF THE WSU EQUESTRIAN TEAM

“It’s a really supportive atmosphere since we’re all competing as a team,” Western-style captain Natalie Hayes said. “We’re all really trying to work together to push each other forward and grow as riders.”

LAURENCE SINCLAIR, Evergreen reporter

While sportsmanship is an important part of any team, it is especially crucial for the Equestrian Team, where members have an unusual teammate: a horse.

Emma Atkinson, president and English-style rider, has been riding horses since she was young. Atkinson was happy to find a place at WSU where she could continue her passion.

“It was a great opportunity to have the team and be able to be a part of something here while also getting to ride and compete,” Atkinson said.

For Atkinson and many other riders, there are constant difficulties when it comes to taking care of a horse and trying to maintain their health to compete. Dealing with unpredictable situations is also a key part of the competition.

“One day their leg is swollen, one day they cut themselves, what are we going to do about it?” Atkinson said. “It’s a lot of dealing with situations as they come up.”

The Equestrian Team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association against schools like Eastern Washington University and the University of British Columbia. In competition, riders are drawn a random horse to ride with for the competition. Depending on the rider, horses are used for either Western or English style competition.

Club treasurer Sydney Derouen remembers one of her first competitions with the Equestrian Team. After drawing her horse, Derouen was met with quite a surprise.

“It turns out she is a gigantic mule, and I was like oh my gosh,” Derouen said. “I’m going to be riding a mule; I’ve never ridden a mule before.”

While Derouen was surprised, she said the mule rode well during the competition.

“I was like wow, you really can pull anything at a show,” Derouen said. “You just kind of have to figure it out as you go and that’s what makes it so fun.”

Western-style captain Natalie Hayes has been riding horses since she was 5 years old. Her long-running history in Equestrian has given her the opportunity to ride with various horses.

“I just love the partnership that you’re able to create with each [horse],” Hayes said. “They’re all so unique. It’s just like people and figuring out different ways to communicate with them.”

Like the horses, Hayes said the Equestrian Team was very welcoming and friendly when she joined her sophomore year.

“It’s a really supportive atmosphere since we’re all competing as a team,” Hayes said. “We’re all really trying to work together to push each other forward and grow as riders.”

The Equestrian Team plans to recruit new members in the spring and encourages those interested to try out. More information about WSU’s Equestrian Team can be found on their website.