This team has four-legged members.
Three local equestrians – Beth Lindberg, Hailey Crawford and Hope Aasgard – and their 1,200-pound companions qualified to compete at the state competition, which will be May 16-19 in Moses Lake.
The girls and their horses compete through WAHSET (Washington High School Equestrian Team) as part of Medical Lake High School’s equestrian team.
To qualify for the state event, a rider must medal in a single event or place in the top three in at least two different district meets. There are three district meets prior to the state competition.
This year, Beth qualified to go to state in eight events including showmanship, horsemanship, trail, in-hand trail, in-hand obstacle relay, working pairs, drill and Canadian flags. A senior, Beth qualified to go to state in five events last year. She has been competing as part of WAHSET since her sophomore year.
“We compete for District 5, and we have around 150 riders,” she said. “I think that seeing my patterns improve throughout the season is my favorite part. My favorite event is trail, because it takes a lot of communication between the horse and rider. You never know if your horse is going to have an off day before you go into the pen. You may have had a great week, and warm-up and go into your class and completely bomb your pattern, or you could have a bad week and a great pattern.”
Hailey qualified to go to state in three events including barrels, Canadian flags and drill. A senior, she has been riding as part of Medical Lake High School’s team for two years.
“I typically compete in the timed events, but this year I have had to try different events. My barrel horse is unable to compete so I tried other classes such as reining, hunt seat and working rancher,” Hailey said. “There are about 20 to 30 riders in each event at the meets. I enjoy the competitive atmosphere and the adrenaline that comes from making a good run.”
A freshman, this was Hope’s first year to participate in WAHSET. She qualified to go to state in drill. She said her favorite part of being involved is that she gets to compete on her horse during “a part of the year where I normally don’t.”
All the girls, who have also competed in other team sports with human counterparts, agree that competing with their horse is unique.
“(It’s) very different…cause you have to rely on an animal for every outcome,” Hope said. “I have to put all my trust into a 1,200-pound animal that has a mind of its own.”
“Having a horse as a teammate is different because I just have to be able to know how they are feeling and act accordingly,” Hailey added. “They aren’t able to say that they don’t feel well, we just have to be able to do the best we can with our partners on any given day.”
She continued that someone who is not familiar with horses probably doesn’t understand the amount of work outside the show ring.
“A non-horsey person doesn’t usually realize the time commitment horses are. It’s not just riding and competing, but feeding morning and night and making sure that horse is okay every single day,” Hailey said.
Many times when people think of equestrian sports, they only think of certain types.
“The first thing that comes to someone’s mind when you say competing on horses is barrel racer, but I actually do the opposite of that,” Beth said. “I ride a pattern slow and with precise maneuvers.”
All three of the girls have been riding since they were very young and all took part in the Benewah County 4-H Horse Program.
“All the lessons and clinics really helped make me a better rider,” Hailey said.
The girls can expect some stiff competition at state. There are usually a couple hundred riders who attend from across Washington. If the girls do well, they could easily earn themselves a spot in the regional competition. For now, they are putting in the work to get them there.
“I spend about five hours a week keeping my horse legged up and ready to run,” Hailey said. “I never practice patterns with Sadie; I just lope hundreds of circles and work on body control.”
I usually ride every day, and take lessons with my trainers twice a week,” Beth added.
Hope also puts in the time and effort to achieve her goals spending upwards of 10 hours working with her horse each week. No doubt the time they work with their horses will increase ahead of the state competition as they work to fine tune their skills.
Both Beth and Hailey say they plan to continue to work with horses once they graduate. Hailey wants to start a breeding business.
“I want to raise and train my own futurity horses. I am hoping to have two mares in foal this year to start my program in 2020,” she said.
Beth is planning to attend Washington State University and ride for their equestrian team. Hope says she also wants to be competing on horses in the future.
“I am taking every small goal as it comes but I want to be able to compete on them for the rest of my life,” Hope said.