Working Together for IHSA in Washington State

Washington State University works with its state rival, the University of Washington, to host IHSA horse shows and advance each other's team goals.
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Washington State University works with its state rival, the University of Washington, to host IHSA horse shows and advance each other's team goals.

The Washington State University Equestrian Show Team (WEST) was established in 1995. The WEST members are dedicated to advancing and continuing their horsemanship skills through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. The team and its riders compete in both English and Western events.

With limited funding from the university, the team places great emphasis on fundraising. WEST hosts two IHSA horse shows each academic year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Last season WSU was voted as hosting the best Western horse show in Zone 8, Region 4. The WSU team takes great pride in finding quality facilities, horses and judges to put on the best possible intercollegiate horse show. "We do our best to make sure that the essence of IHSA is being met," said Justine Britten, vice president of WEST.

On October 26 and 27, 2002, WEST hosted their first IHSA horse show of the season in Yakima, Washington. "The members of the horse community in Yakima support our efforts and make us feel very welcome," said Britten. Clubs in the area such as 4-H and local breed clubs come together and donate their horses for the weekend. "The local horsepeople understand how important these shows are to us, and therefore they do whatever it takes to make the show happen," said WEST secretary Stacia Gunderson.

In most areas of competition competing teams rarely are friends. The WSU Equestrian Show Team and University of Washington Equestrian Show Team are an exception to the rule. When the two teams first formed they hosted their first IHSA horse show together, a first for the long-standing state rivals. Since then the two teams have become almost family, always encouraging the other to achieve their team goals.

This year WEST is hoping to host the regional championship horse show with the University of Washington. It would be another first that the two teams embrace together; neither team has ever hosted a regional championship horse show. "Most people think that we would or should be rivals, but we are always willing to help each other out," said Kelly Torrisi, WEST treasurer. "That is why we want to host regionals together. It will be twice as impressive."

Corinda Behler is a senior at Washington State University and the president of the equestrian show team. She competes in open Western horsemanship, open reining, and open hunter seat equitation.