St. Helens High School (SHHS) horseback riders are off to their next adventure in Moses Lake, WA after wrangling a spot at the Northwest Invitational Championships.

Riders Haley Pierson (694) and Lillian Moore (762) were awarded 5th place for their Working Pairs performance at the state meet Friday, May 13, in Redmond, OR.

“The St. Helens Equestrian Team has never qualified in working pairs that I remember since I’ve been there for 15 years, so for them to place that high at the state level was huge for us,” SHHS Equestrian Team Assistant Coach Julie Sandstrom said. “We’re very proud of them.”

SHHS Equestrians also took home a 3rd place trophy for the 5+ Freestyle Drill event, which means an additional six riders have qualified for the Invitational meet June 17-19.

Scappoose High School will be sending three of their horseback riders - Mollie Sundin, (714) Kenna Olson, (711) and Ada Kay Evans (709) - to the event. 

The Northwest Invitational, which draws competitors from Washington and Oregon, includes the top five teams and individuals from each event at each state’s high school equestrian state championship meet, according to the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams (OHSET) website.

OHSET State Championship Committee Chair Candi Bothum describes the Freestyle Drill as “an event where (riders) can create, choreograph their own pattern and then ride it.”

“(Riders) have to do it within a certain timeframe, and once they choreograph it, they learn it together,” Bothum told The Chronicle. “Judging is scored based on uniformity, the difficulty of their pattern, and then accuracy - making sure that they don’t bump into each other - their horsemanship and how they ride together.”

Bothum brings 40 years of experience to the equestrian sport. Her previous roles include working as a trainer, an instructor, and a judge for Oregon high school equestrian teams.

To become competitive in horseback riding takes an enormous amount of dedication and practice, according to Bothum.

“Most of these kids that are doing well, and especially youth who are doing it as a team event like drills, are practicing at least a couple of times that week together and riding on their own (and) practicing their horsemanship skills four or five times a week,” she said.

SOHSET, or Southern Oregon High School Equestrian Teams, was founded in 1993 by Glen Litwiller, according to the OHSET website. It was not until 1995 that the sport gained the recognition of high schools in the surrounding area, and in 1998 that the Oregon High School Equestrian Team became what it is today.

SHHS Equestrian Team Coach Marcie Brumbaugh commended the SHHS riders for their dedication and hard work this season, and for what they brought to the Redmond competition.

SHHS Equestrians

The SHHS Equestrian Team riders show off their team spirit.

“They outperformed themselves, and they just did an amazing job,” she said. “It was a great team to work with. And their drill was very, very spectacular. It just was amazing that they could put it together so well.”

The Northwest Invitational Championships will kick off at the Arnell Pavillion in Moses Lake, WA, June 17-19.

Follow this developing story at thechronicleonline.com and in Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

For more details on the regional competition, visit pnwic.com.

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