Walla Walla opens inaugural high school equestrian season

The Walla Walla WAHSET team starts its first season on March 14-16 at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake.
(From left to right, mounted): Taylor Richardson, Gabrielle Longmire, Kyla Connall, Madelyn Walker, Bekah Longmire, Hayley Taylor, Sierra Smith, Lexi Shaw, Gina Maiuri.
(From left to right, standing): LaZelle Russell (coach), Lisa Thonney (coach) and Michelle Shoun (advisor).
Not pictured: Mattie Johnson, Sydnee Walker, Lacey Klem and Kaylee Erdman.

The Walla Walla WAHSET team starts its first season on March 14-16 at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake. (From left to right, mounted): Taylor Richardson, Gabrielle Longmire, Kyla Connall, Madelyn Walker, Bekah Longmire, Hayley Taylor, Sierra Smith, Lexi Shaw, Gina Maiuri. (From left to right, standing): LaZelle Russell (coach), Lisa Thonney (coach) and Michelle Shoun (advisor). Not pictured: Mattie Johnson, Sydnee Walker, Lacey Klem and Kaylee Erdman.

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla is now among communities fielding a Washington State High School Equestrian Team (WAHSET), kicking off its first season with 13 team members at a meet in a week and half in Moses Lake.

The new local team is comprised of 13 equestrians from Walla Walla High and DeSales.

The WAHSET organization hosts three meets in each of six districts in the state, as well as a state championship meet.

The WAHSET team is in District 5. They compete in the meets at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake on March 14-16, April 4-6 and April 25-27.

The state meet, which will alternate between westside and eastside venues, is slated May 8-11 at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Wash.

Teams in District 5 are from Columbia-Burbank, Deer Park, Goldendale, Kiona-Benton, Medical Lake, Touchet, Yakima (West Valley), White Salmon, and new additions Prosser and Walla Walla.

An array of events are offered by WAHSET, including Steer Daubing, Breakaway, Roping, Barrels, Individual Flags, Poles, Keyhole, Figure 8, Showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, Hunt Seat Equitation over Fences, Sadle Seat Equitation, Stock Seat (Western) Equitation, Reining, Dressage, In-Hand Trail (minis and horses), Driving (minis and horses), Working Rancher, Trail, Team Sorting, Birangle, Team Canadian Flags, Working Pairs, Drill - Working Fours, Drill-Short Program and In-Hand Obstacle Relay.

Two of the local 13 equestrians on the team have participated in WAHSET before, in Gina Maiuri and Sierra Smith.

Smith moved to Wa-Hi from Dayton, and wanted to represent her new school in WAHSET. She began the Dayton team last year and served as captain. She participated in the state championship meet in In-Hand Trail as a freshman.

“Last year at WAHSET was absolutely amazing!” Smith said. “I made new friends, gained leadership skills and created memories I’m going to have for the rest of my life.

“I can’t wait for this year, to get to work with my new team and create new memories together,” she said. “I think we are going to be great!”

Joining Smith and Maiuri on the local team are Lexi Shaw, Kyla Connall, Taylor Richardson, Gabrielle Longmire, Rebekah Longmire, Madelyn Walker, Hayley Taylor, Mattie Johnson, Sydnee Walker, Lacey Klem and Kaylee Erdman.

Team members can be from any high school in the area, male or female.

The local team is coached by Lisa Thonney and LaZelle Russell, with Michelle Shoun advising.

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