The Narrows Pony Club is sending ten girls to compete nationally in the 2014 Pony Club Festival in Kentucky in July.
Fifteen-year-old Emilie Everett, a freshman at Peninsula High School, will be making the trip with her horse, Willow, a 16-year-old Swedish Warmblood. Everett will be competing in the Dressage category. Dressage is a competitive sport where the horse is judged on various movements set to music.
Everett has been riding horses since she was 5 years old and has been with the club since she was 8.
“You make great relationships,” Everett said. “You learn a lot that you wouldn’t learn on your own. The rallies I go to, you learn so much. It’s fun. You make a lot of memories.”
Everett will be competing against individuals of various ages from around the country. The Narrows Pony Club is part of the Northwest region, which encompasses all of Western Washington.
Everett said she hopes to have a good showing in Kentucky.
“I would like to have fun,” she said. “I also would like to be successful.”
The trip will be more difficult for the horses, who are being shipped down south.
“I understand that it’s going to be pretty stressful for them and they’re not going to be on their ‘A’ game,” Everett said. “I would like to give them the best opportunity that I can.”
Anni Grandia coaches the club, which is located in Vaughn. Grandia has been on board for 10 years, and will be taking the girls to the festival for the first time. The club trains year-round, and has most of its competitions between April and October. The girls practice three to six times a week, and once a week together as a team. Grandia, who has competed throughout the country, enjoys passing her knowledge to the kids.
“I really enjoy showing and giving these kids the opportunity to experience new things and helping them along that journey,” Grandia said. “Just showing them how much more is out there, rather than just the local, riding around with your friends — which is great fun, but there’s so much more.
Grandia sees the passion in her students, and wants to help them get better at their craft.
“They want to learn, they want to get better,” she said. “I’ve competed nationally and have gotten to go do some of these things. I’m really enjoying being able to share some of those things with them.”
Lexi Priest, a 17-year-old junior at Peninsula High School, will be competing in show jumping with her horse, 14-year-old Devlin, an Oldenburg Quarter Horse. She will be joined by teammates Libby Everett, Cedar Combs and Chantale Vachon. Priest, who has been riding horses since she was 5, qualified for the three-foot division.
“It’s really fun and it’s challenging,” Priest said.
Grandia is hoping to take the teenagers to various museums and race tracks in Kentucky, including Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby. It will be a unique chance for the team to experience Kentucky culture and history while competing against some of the best horse riders in the nation.
“There’s so much to see and learn,” Grandia said. “I’m just excited that the girls are going to get to experience all of that and essentially put themselves against the best of the best in the country. Kind of see how they measure up.”Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 email@example.com Twitter: @gateway_jon