Ridgefield equestrian team prepares for state tournament

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After finishing their third meet with a multitude of gold and silver medals, the Ridgefield equestrian team is preparing for the state tournament at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake, which is set for May 19 to May 22.

Coach Darren Rinta said six of the 14 students on the team will be headed to the state tournament to participate in various events. 

“The kids have been really successful,” Rinta said. 

Prior to this season, many of the riders were unfamiliar with the Washington High School Equestrian Team (WAHSET), Rinta said. Many of them had experience in 4H programs or riding horses privately, so it took an adjustment period for the students to learn the rules and structure of the program. 

“(It was) a lot of learning for the families and for the kids as far as what WAHSET is and how it’s run,” Rinta said. “They learned a lot and they grew together as a team and did really well in each meet and each week as practice went on.”

The team practices every week in preparation for the competition. Rinta said the riders in the performance category will not receive their patterns until two weeks prior to the tournament so that all of the riders have the same amount of time to practice. 

“We’re just practicing riding, keeping the girls in shape, and keeping the horses in shape,” he said.

Rinta’s daughter, Josie, who is a senior, qualified for nine of 11 events in the state competition, and “stepped up as far as her leadership goes.” He also highlighted junior Jenna Blankenship, who has been a “great help” with the 10 freshmen riders who are adjusting to the program. He said the duo has helped the new riders feel more confident in their abilities.

Freshman Chloe Mitchell replaced another rider on the team who broke her wrist. 

“She’s just been practicing, working with her horse, and doing everything that she could to be ready,” Rinta said. “She competed at the last event for the first time in the drill and will be on our state team as well.”

Cami Sundstrom is another student who stands out to Rinta. Since Sundstrom’s horse was sick, she had to ride other people’s horses during competitions and was still able to secure medals.

“When some of the girls were sick or couldn’t make it, (Sundstrom) was the first one to want to volunteer to ride in those events so we didn’t have to forfeit or not compete at all,” Rinta said.

At their last official meet, the riders on the team secured a plethora of medals, including several golds. 

“I couldn’t be happier,” Rinta said. “I came in to replace the coach who was here last year. … It was tough to start knowing we would have 10 freshmen and not knowing what that would look like, but how they all grew and matured. …  I was really happy with the results and how we ended up as a team.”

Rinta said the team faced some obstacles throughout their season, which included a horse who was injured the night before one of their meets and had to receive treatment at Oregon State University.

“Those are the types of things with horses that are tough to adjust to, but the kids did a great job keeping their horses healthy,” he said. “It’s not like motorcycles or something else where you just fix a part. The horses get sick and have medical issues they have to deal with too, so we try to keep the kids and the horses healthy.”

The top five finishers in each event at the state tournament will go on to compete in the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championship (PNWIC). The tournament features riders from Washington and Oregon. It will be held at the Grant County Fairgrounds from June 16 to June 19.  

Meet 3 Results 

Freestyle Fours Drill (Josie Rinta, Jenna Blankenship, Sarah Payne, Jaylee Lentz and Chloe Mitchell): Gold medal                                                                                                                                              In Hand Obstacle Relay (Josie Rinta, Jenna Blankenship, Cami Sundstom and Jaylee Lentz): Gold medal  

Stock Seat Equitation: Cami Sundstrom - gold medal

Hunt Seat Equitation: Cami Sundstrom - silver medal

Showmanship: Jenna Blankenship - gold medal; Cami Sundstrom - silver medal

Trail Equitation: Cami Sundstrom - gold medal           

In Hand Trial: Cami Sundstrom - gold medal; Jenna Blankenship - silver medal               

Hunt Seat Over Fences: Sarah Payne - bronze medal

Individual Flags: Josie Rinta - gold medal

Two Man Birangle (Josie Rinta and Jaylee Lentz): Bronze medal

Team Versatility (Josie Rinta, Jenna Blankenship, Cami Sundstom and Ally Ravelli): Silver medal          

Canadian Flags Race (Josie Rinta, Jenna Blankenship, Jaylee Lentz, Sarah Payne and Cami Sundstrom): Silver medal 

Steer Daubing: Josie Rinta - gold medal

Barrels: Josie Rinta - bronze medal 

Figure 8: Josie Rinta - gold medal  

Medium School (11-20 athletes) Champion

High Point Individual Reserve Performance buckle: Cami Sundstrom

High Point Individual Time Champion: Josie Rinta

$1,000 WAHSET District 4 Scholarship: Josie Rinta



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