Equestrians start new season with new riders, coaches

The Huskies graduated four senior equestrian team members in 2008, leaving this year’s team young and relatively inexperienced but coming along well in team events.

The equestrian team competed in its first event at the end of February and finished sixth in Canadian flags, team adviser Marsha Blankenship said. In individual events, Jessica Blankenship placed seventh in flags, and Rochelle Zamacona placed 12th in barrels out of more than 80 riders.

Both riders return this year with Meisha Carlin. Zamocona is a junior and three-year member of the team. Carlin and Blankenship are sophomores.

Joining them are seniors Ryan Doss and Raluca Walker and sophomore Emily Hewett.

“They did very well their first time out,” Marsha Blankenship said, highlighting the Huskies’ strengths as a team. “I think we’re going to pick it up with Canadian flags.”

The team is fast as a group, although individuals are still working things out.

“If we can pick up our time just a little bit (hundredths of a second) in Canadian flags, I think we could go to state,” Blankenship said. The team continues to practice other events, such as team penning, and individual events.

The team has been practicing since December under the direction of Coach Kim Armstrong and Assistant Coach Laurie Wyant.

Events include 50 to 80 riders, Blankenship said, and the district grew to 23 teams this year with the addition of a large team from Junction City.

Graduating last year were Larissa Bjornsen, Cera Kem, Tracy Smith and Jessalyn Seiber. They competed in drill and team penning at state last year, and Bjornsen competed in individual events.

“Just to get there is amazing for as small a team as we are,” Blankenship said.

The sport is expensive and requires a lot of parental support, Blankenship said. The team has held fund-raising events and may hold more later to help defray the costs.