Sequim’s high school equestrian team brought home a whopping 12 first place wins at the first WAHSET meet of the season, from Left: Libby Swanberg , Kennady Gilbertson, Joanna Seelye, Katelynn Middleton-Sharpe and Asha Swanberg. (Submitted photo Anna Swanberg)

Sequim’s high school equestrian team brought home a whopping 12 first place wins at the first WAHSET meet of the season, from Left: Libby Swanberg , Kennady Gilbertson, Joanna Seelye, Katelynn Middleton-Sharpe and Asha Swanberg. (Submitted photo Anna Swanberg)

HORSEPLAY: Sequim High School opens season with 12 blue ribbons

I’M SO PROUD of Sequim High School’s equestrian team for bringing home 12 blue ribbons from their first competition of the season! Held Jan. 25-28 at Grays Harbor Fairgrounds in Elma, I feel the need to shout a loud hip-hip-hooray for the high points the team garnered overall — well done!

During the competition Coach Misty Gilbertson raved the Sequim team was, “crushing it!” adding, “there have been some bumps on the road this meet, and honestly that’s part of owning and competing on horses, but I am so proud of the grace and maturity the team displayed!”

You may be wondering who coach Gilbertson is, and what happened to Katie Salomon-Newton, who’s coached the team for the past 11 years! Turns out she wanted to “step back a bit” from all her volunteering activities, including that of the team’s head coach, but she’s staying on to coach the drill team and lead the Neon Riders for 4-H. This year she’s relinquished the Head Coach reins to a favorite person of mine — and former WAHSET teammate of my niece — Ady Crosby. Misty Gilbertson (Kennady’s mom) is now the Administrative Coach, Natalie Blankenship is Performance coach and Bettina Hoesel is their school advisor.

This year’s team consists of Libby Swanberg, Asha Swanberg, Katelynn Middleton-Sharpe, Paige Reed, Celbie Karjalainen, Lily Meyer, Kennady Gilbertson, Joanna Seelye, Sydney Hutton and Taylor Lewis, along with non-competing member Maggie Wakefield.

WAHSET Meet 1, District 4 results:

Performance Events

Dressage—Sydney Hutton 4th; Katelynn Middleton-Sharpe 5th.

Saddle Seat — Katelynn 1st; Sydney 2nd.

Jumping — Sydney, 1st.

Hunt Seat — Taylor Lewis, 14th

Stock Seat —Taylor, 1st; Celbie Karjalainen, 7th.

Showmanship — Taylor and Katelynn tied for 6th; Celbie, 16th.

In-Hand Obstacle Relay Team — Celbie, Lily Meyer, Katelynn and Taylor, 5th.

Reining —T aylor, 1st; Libby Swanberg, 2nd.

In-hand Trail — Taylor, 5th.

Trail Equitation — Celbie, 5th.

Working Rancher — Libby, 2nd.

Working Pairs —Libby and Asha 1st; Joanna Seelye and Lily 4th.

Drill Team Freestyle 4’s Lily, Taylor, Joanna, Katelynn 1st.

Versatility Paige, Libby, Celbie and Kennady 1st.

Timed Events

Bi-wrangle—Paige Reed and Kennady Gilbertson 1st; Libby and Asha 2nd; Joanna and Katelynn 4th; Sydney and Celbie 10th.

Pole Bending—Asha 1st; Joanna 14th.

Figure 8 — Asha 1st; Kennady 2nd; Libby 5th; Katelynn 6th; Joanna 14th.

Individual Flags—Libby 1st; Asha 2nd; Joanna 4th; Kennady 10th.

Keyhole — Asha 1st; Kennady 2nd; Katelynn 3rd; Libby 4th.

Barrels — Asha, 1st; Paige, 3rd; Celbie, 8th; Joanna, 12th.

Cattle Events

Breakaway Roping —Libby 3rd.

Steer Daubing —Libby 3rd ; Asha 4th; Kennady 6th; Katelynn 9th.

Team Sorting — Lily and Taylor 3rd ; Libby and Asha 4th; Sydney and Celbie 5th; Kennady and Paige, 8th; Joanna and Katelynn 18th.

Meet two takes place on Feb. 22- 25.

4-H Neon Riders

Long time Neon Riders 4-H leader Katie Newton shared for her club’s community service project this winter they got together on Jan. 31 and made about 100 individual care packages filled with essentials like food, mini water bottles, shampoos and more, along with little notes of encouragement in hopes they would brighten someone’s day.

Club members then delivered their care bags to Salvation Army, food banks, The Answer For Youth (TAFY, a drop in center the provides hot meals, showers, laundry and more for homeless and at risk youths and families up to age 35), police departments, Serenity House, the Ramen Shop, middle schools and high schools in both Sequim and Port Angeles.

“Our 4-H group loves to go out of our way to help other in need,” said Lili Torey. “We had a really fun time making these bags for people, too.”

Perhaps many aren’t aware there is a large number of homeless youths in our area in need of help. According to Sequim Sunrise Rotary’s Joe Rantz Youth Fund, 6 percent of the school district’s youths were considered homeless in 2023. A high number considering the national average is 3 percent.

Thank you Neon Riders for thinking about those youths by providing some basic necessities, cheerful notes and much needed support! ________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

Neon Riders 4-H club members gathered together to make care packages filled with food, soaps, toothbrushes and cheery notes they gave to local charity’s that help those displaced from their homes. (Submitted photo by Lila Torey0)

Neon Riders 4-H club members gathered together to make care packages filled with food, soaps, toothbrushes and cheery notes they gave to local charity’s that help those displaced from their homes. (Submitted photo by Lila Torey0)

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