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Camaraderie among high schoolers through equestrian team

Melanie Russell photo

The Snohomish Valley Equestrian Team stand for a photo at The Posse arena near Snohomish last week for a practice, despite the cold and exams or mid-term papers looming.

SNOHOMISH — Every week, they ride and dream of their futures. 
So much of their pasts have been spent on their horses and the girls all hope to keep riding through college as well. They say they’ll always ride. Nothing beats it.
The Snohomish Valley Equestrian Team is a new squad to the Washington High School Equestrian Teams (WAHSET) circuit and is comprised of students from high schools around Snohomish County. It is a high school team that mixes other high schools and also sports a parent-led booster club. 
The girls represent high schools including Snoho-
mish, Monroe, Glacier Peak, Everett, Arlington, Lake Stevens, Cascade and Marysville-Getchell. Together, they form a high school equestrian club that allows them to compete in WAHSET equine competitions throughout the state. Like other high school sports athletes, they have to maintain good grades and good behavior. They also can letter in the sport at each of their respective high schools, which is a plus for them since a decorated letterman jacket tells the tale of their favorite sport and pastime. 
“High school and horses mix perfectly,” said Keely Gobin, 17. “I was too sick to go to school today, but I still came to practice. It’s also a great escape – to just get on my horse and ride and forget about life or stress.”
Gobin, who is a junior at Snohomish High School, has been riding in the WAHSET circuit for two years and said she’s been riding horses since before she was born. 
“You’ll find that with a lot of the girls here — most of us have been riding all our life. Our parents rode, or we learned when we were small,” Gobin said. 
Her teammates chimed in, each speaking from her heart while simultaneously reining her horse to face the way they wanted. The animals seemed as energetic as their riders. 
“I’ve been riding for 10
years and I’ve learned that your horse is only as fit as you are, and they read your vibes,” said Kaitlin Goodsell, 17, a senior at Cascade High School. “I feel like I’m in really good shape for my horse and again – your horse is only as fit as you are. There’s a lot of trust, too.”
Goodsell said she does her pre-riding stretches and her teammates make fun of her but often join along. Riding a horse is physical. 
When the horse is galloping fast against the timer, weaving through poles, running a team drill, stepping a pattern, or herding cattle as part of WAHSET competition categories, the rider is
reining, leaning, standing
and keeping their core balanced. The girls find themselves breathing hard along with the horses after completing an exercise. 
“It’s a lot of fun, but mostly because of the camaraderie,” said Hannah Loesch, 16, a junior at Snohomish High.
“We come from different schools but we all have a common interest.”
Last week, the girls gathered together at The Posse riding arena on South Machias Road north of Snohomish with
their horses of different
breed and color, and talked about school, riding patterns and how cold it was. Steam rose off the horses’ bodies. The team’s volunteer coaches called out critiques and routine demands, and the girls with their horses fell in line and took turns running through each exercise with their animal. 
“They’re all on different levels so it’s good to see
each of them get better as the season goes,” said Julie Guthrie, the team’s gaming coach. “I want them to strive to do the best they can do. I’ve known some of these
girls for years with giving lessons and others I’ve just met this year, so it’s good to get to know them. They did great at the first meet, I was really proud.”
Julie Guthrie is a longtime horse riding staple in the Snohomish area, offering riding lessons and stabling services. Guthrie was asked to coach the team and has devoted her spare time to the girls and to helping them place well at district meets.
The other team coaches are Renee Jones, Elena Gilbertson, Brenda Vroman and Shannon McKinzie.
Their first district meet was in January in Vancouver, Wash. Their next meet is in March in Elma. 
Making the team’s formation possible was through the efforts of the parent booster club along with the volunteer coaches; as well as devoted parents willing to haul their children and horses in trailers to the various practices and meets. 
The team captains are Carliann Espinosa (Snohomish, gaming), Nicole Busch (Lake Stevens, performance), Abby Byers (Marysville-Getchell, drill) and Keely Gobin (Snohomish, cattle). 
“They are doing so great and it’s so awesome to have our coaches volunteer their time,” said Kari Espinosa, president of the SVET parent booster club and WAHSET advisor. “For some of these girls,it’s their first year competing (on WAHSET circuit) and it’s been great for them to learn a new discipline and meet a lot of people.”
The girls continued to talk, laugh, ride and give each other tips or praises. The horses sweated and pranced, creating a rhythmic pattern they all fell into with their riders going along. It was harmonious, and almost calming, despite the high energy of the hopeful youth. 
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a horse, and I want to keep riding,” said Carlie Crosson, 18, a Snohomish High senior. 

____
CORRECTIONS - December 12, 2016:

In the online version of this story, a coach's first name was ommitted from the initial posting of this story, and a second coach's name was misspelled. The Tribune regrets the errors.

 

 

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