Straight from the horse’s mouth

RachelAnn Degnan, Staff Reporter

The smell of the hay, the whispers of the wind and the creaking of the barn doors are just a small part of a horse enthusiast’s day. 

Washington’s horse partisans come in all shapes and sizes, and most of them flock to Ellensburg once a year for the famous Kittitas County rodeo. 

The CWU Equestrian team was created to provide student horse lovers a chance to compete year-round. 

The team and club have drawn long time riders like senior biomedical major Rebekah Longmire to its ranks during her time in Ellensburg. 

“I joined the equestrian team because I wanted to get involved and meet people who love competing with horses as much as I do,” Longmire said. “I loved being able to share my riding skills with others while continuing to work on my own.” 

The competitions are a predominant part of the equestrian team. 

“At competitions, we get randomly assigned horses, and it’s really fun watching them warm up and wondering which one you will get,” Longmire said. “There are two divisions of riding, Western and English, and when I was participating in both, I had competitions almost every weekend during the season.” 

Owning a horse is not essential to be a part of the equestrian team, however. 

The team’s vice president, senior biology and chemistry double major Hallie Rasmussen, doesn’t currently have a horse, but that hasn’t stopped her from getting involved.

“It is normally completely random which horse I can ride because I am using someone else’s animal,” Rasmussen said. “[This] can be challenging but I enjoy learning how to handle different horses on different levels.”

Like a lot of sports and events at CWU, the equestrian team has been negatively affected by the pandemic. 

Unable to secure a single barn for themselves, the team’s horses are spread throughout Ellensburg. 

Senior construction management major and president of the Equestrian Club Alicia Mahler was worried about how the season would look.

“It was nerve-racking to get the email about not being able to compete or participate in events this year,” Mahler said. “It is hard to practice as a team when our horses are not in the same barn, but we have been trying to take this time to volunteer in our community and bond together.”

Even with the equestrian team’s unknown future, Alexa Schmidt, a senior in the business administration program and the coach and western captain, has continued to be optimistic.

“We have taken the year to practice and to focus on coming back in later years stronger,” Schmidt said. “We can still hold practices and team bonding, and I am really hoping that we have productively used this time to better ourselves and our riding.”