Central’s equestrian team sends riders to IHSA semi-finals 

Shaima Shamdeen, Staff Reporter

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Central’s equestrian team has finished up the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) regional competition and three of their members have advanced to semi-finals.

Elizabeth Luty, Ellye Main and Erin Weildraayer will be headed to Ohio next week to compete for a chance at nationals.

The team was originally established in 2006 as a club for horse lovers who wanted to bring the sport to Central. The team later developed into a Collegiate Sports Club and competes against others schools in their zone, such as Oregon State University, Washington State University and University of Washington.

Riders compete in Western Horsemanship, Reining, Hunt Seat Equitation, and Equitation Over Fences.

Junior Erin Weildraayer will be competing as a reiner for the first time during semi-finals. While riding on her own horse, who she calls Chuck, has been good practice, she has taken an extra step to insuring she’ll be ready for semi-finals.

“[Reiners] go faster, they stop differently, they ride different than what I am used to… so I’ve been working and getting lessons,” Weildraayer said.

Although Weildraayer has been riding horses since she was 9 years old, she says that helping fellow teammates, like MiCaiah Davis, who are beginning have helped sharpen her skills.

“I’ve had to learn to explain things that are second nature to me. I’ll realize that I haven’t been doing things the way that I’m teaching the other girls, so it makes me more aware of how I do things, and my riding has improved in the last year,” Weildraayer said.

Like Weildraayer, junior Davis has seen an improvement in her riding performance and skills.

“I started riding horses when I joined the club last year. This year was the first year I started competing and I’ve placed every time, so it’s exciting to see my improvement and knowing the judges see it too,” Davis said.

The team puts an emphasis on forming bonds both between the teammates and the horses. Members don’t need a horse or riding experience to join.

“This is for anybody who has always wanted to learn about horses and be around horses,” Weildraayer said.

Horse grooming, cleaning stalls, putting on shows, and team fundraising, along with nightly rides at Orrion Farms have brought the girls closer, not only to horses, but also to each other.

“I learn from the everyday. I haven’t been around horses so I don’t know what they should or shouldn’t be doing,” Davis said.

The Equestrian team provides a place to enjoy riding horses at any skill level.

“At the shows, it’s purely about how you look on the horse and how you present the horse. It’s purely on equitation, it’s about us,” Davis said.

Weildraayer says that this is because at IHSA shows, the host school provides the horses used.

“Some of the horses are not as tame as the ones we have at the barn so it’s about how you can adapt to the situation and how you handle it.”

While the entire team won’t be able to make it to Ohio to support the girls competing, there will be plenty of moral support.

“We’re always screaming and chanting [at shows]. We love to cheer our team on,” Davis said.