Hard work paid off in record fashion for the Elma High School Equestrian team Saturday.
Area students got a chance to show off their horse skills in front of a home crowd and the experience was everything they hoped it would be.
“It is awesome,” Elma senior Shelby Felder said. “It is just about you and your horse and all the time and commitment you put in. You just get the chance to see all your hard work pay off.”
The Elma team, which includes students from Elma, Aberdeen, Shelton and Mary M. Knight, hosted a unique display of horsemanship by high school students from seven area teams, including Bethel, Eatonville, La Center, Stanwood, White River and Yelm.
One student especially took advantage of the home track. Shelton senior Beth Snider set the state record in the figure 8 on Saturday.
“I was hoping that I would make a good run,” Snider said. “Last time, I was close to the record, but it was my fastest time ever so this time I was hoping I could run at least that time again. I didn’t think I had it because my end turn was wide, but I saw (Coach) Kathi (Dahlstrom) getting up and running away so I figured something just happened.”
Dahlstrom was running to get the paperwork to fill out the state record form as Snider had run a 18.008 to beat the former record 18.168 seconds. Snider’s sacifice to compete was greater than time to practice and care for her horse. The senior, who has been riding since she was 4, missed her school dance to ride once more.
“I’m missing my school dance right now so that sucks, especially because I’m a senior, but this makes up for it.”
The three day competition began early on Friday with 21 students competing in showmanship and ran throughout the day with the sorting competition ending the first night. Saturday’s portion of the competition began before the sunrise with dressage at 6:30 a.m. and ended long after the sun went down with keyhole not getting started until after 11 p.m. The long weekend came to a close with just four competitions on Sunday, but for the students who competed it was worth every hour spent to hear the cheers from the fans.
Students aren’t able to compete in equestrian until they begin their freshman year of high school so for those like Felder, who began riding when she was six, it was a long wait to finally be able to participate in the sport.
“I knew a lot of riders when I was in middle school so I used to come to all the meets and it was a huge thing,” Felder said. “I kept waiting until high school so I could do equestrian so it was awesome when I was finally able to ride.”
The wait was even longer for Snider as Shelton was not incorporated with Elma her first two years and the school did not have its own team. Dahlstrom worked to add Shelton as part of the team so Snider could compete.
The Elma team had numerous champions in adddition to Snider with Felder winning showmanship, stockseat, sorting and trail, Elma junior Maddie Spencer winning barrels and Elma freshman Payton Conrad winning flags just to name a few. Full results were not available as of Tuesday morning.
“It was more than what I was expecting,” Felder said. “I didn’t think it would be so much fun and dedication. It really gave me a chance to showcase my skills and my horse and show people how much time I’ve put in and how much I’ve worked for what I’ve gotten.”