Prairie equestrian team prepares for third meet before state championship

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Prairie High School’s equestrian team is preparing for its third meet of the season, which will determine their chances of entering the state championship.

The meet is set for April 7 through 10 at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds in Elma. 

“We’ve had really good meets (so far),” said head coach April Richardson. “We only have six riders on our team this year, and five of the six are going to state.”

Richardson said the team usually has 12 to 15 riders. She attributed the shortage this year to finances. To cover the costs for the horses and competitions, Richardson said the team will host a number of fundraisers in Battle Ground and Vancouver later this month. 

The team also held a garage sale in March which Richardson said was “moderately successful.”

The funds raised will pay for things like hauling the horses, which Richardson said is the responsibility of the families. 

“The team tries to cover stalls, because at each meet, every horse has to have a stall and that costs money, as well as for parents to camp or stay in a hotel room,” Richardson said. “Typically, … we cover the first stall for each athlete, because not all athletes have more than one horse, so we try to keep it fair. If one person brings three horses, they have to cover the two other stalls on their own, where one stall would be covered by the team.” 

Richardson said the fundraisers also cover the cost of things like gas or hotel rooms for the volunteer coaches. 

The upcoming meet will be the team’s “ace in the hole” when it comes to who’s going to state, Richardson said.

“How WASHET (Washington High School Equestrian Team) works is there’s three meets for each district every year,” she said. “Then that district takes the top two scores for each athlete. Even though they compete three times (before the state championship), they basically only get the scores tallied for their top two. Usually by the second meet, we already know who’s making it to state to some degree.”

Richardson noted the third meet, however, could change the standings.

Some kids are unable to attend all three meets, so if they missed one of the first two meets, the third one can give riders a potential shot at a trip to the state competition. 

One of the riders who will head to state this year is Richardson’s daughter, Summer. Summer won a gold medal in both the saddle seat and driving during the second meet. She also got a bronze medal in the in-hand obstacle relay.

There’s also Madeline McMillen and Gabi Nedich, who Richardson said both won first place in the working pairs category at the second meet. Breezy Edge and Nedich won the gold in cow sorting, “so they’re sitting pretty good for making it to state,” Richardson said.

The team will hold a fundraiser on April 6 at Five Guys, 19171 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver. Then on April 20, there will be a Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser at 7704 NE Fifth Ave., Vancouver. The Mod Pizza fundraiser will be held on April 27 at 1214 SW Scotton Way, Suite 117, in Battle Ground. The team will also hold a car and horse trailer wash from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 24 in the Les Schwab parking lot at 1719 W. Main St. in  Battle Ground.

People who want to participate in the fundraisers should mention the Prairie Equestrian Team when they place their orders. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to the team. 

Meet Two Results: 

Saddleseat: First place Summer Richardson, second place Tamzen VanHorn

Driving: First place Summer Richardson

Cow sorting Team B: First place Gabi Nedich and Breezy Edge

Working Pairs Team B: First place Gabi Nedich and Madeline McMillen

Figure 8: Third place Breezy Edge

Pole Bendy: Second place Breezy Edge

In Hand Obstacle Relay: Third place Summer Richardson, Gabi Nedich, Madeline McMillen, Tamzen VanHorn

Team Versatility: Third place Gabi Nedich, Madeline McMillen, Breezy Edge, Tamzen VanHorn

In Hand Trail: Third place Madeline McMillen

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