Camas equestrian Ashlyn Anderson went head-to-head with the top high school equestrians in the Pacific Northwest and finished No. 1 in the “showmanship” category at the Pacific Northwest Invitational Championships in Redmond, Oregon, this summer.
Only the top high school equestrians from Washington and Oregon are invited to the annual equestrian championship event, which is held a few weeks after state competitions in mid-June. Anderson, who will be a senior at Camas High this year, qualified by finishing second in showmanship at the Washington State Championship in May.
Riding her three horses in a wide array of events, she racked up more points than any other rider at the Moses Lake competition, earning the coveted high-point performance buckle.
“There have been so many memorable moments with my (Camas) team throughout the years,” she said, “but the one surprise I had this year was winning high point at state for all-performance riders. It was a huge shock and definitely a huge accomplishment for me.”
Anderson’s rise to the top of the high school equestrian world in Washington and Oregon may have never happened if it wasn’t for a sneaky move that her grandparents pulled off several years ago when her parents were out of town.
“I got started riding through my older sister, who also grew up loving horses,” Anderson said. “When our parents were on vacation our grandparents bought us a horse and got the whole thing started.”
Many years later, the shock from her parents’ equine surprise wore off, and the Anderson family now own three horses. Ashlyn rides all of them competitively, as each horse specializes in different events.
“I’m lucky enough to have three horses, which is a huge blessing for sure,” she said. “They are really special and have the biggest hearts. Even with nasty weather at shows, they always try their hardest, and for that I’m super lucky.”
Anderson said much of her success comes from the challenging goals she set for herself during her freshman year.
“Winning showmanship was my biggest goal for myself for my whole career, so being able to do that this year was really special,” Anderson said.
Even more important, she added, were the friendships she made on the 13-member Camas equestrian team.
“You get to build a really close bond with people while learning a lot of skills outside of riding like teamwork, responsibility and discipline,” she said. “I would definitely recommend the equestrian team to anyone who is interested.”
The Camas equestrian team practices two times per week at Green Mountain Stables in rural Camas, where they build their skills and learn to properly care for their horses.
Nicki Harrington, the team’s drill coach, said she’s proud of the girls for taking such good care of their horses and for always having a “can-do” attitudes.
“This sport really pushes these girls to their limits because they are responsible for not only for their own schedules, but when their horses eat and get fluids as well,” Harrington told the Post-Record before the state competition in May.
One other Camas equestrian qualified for the Pacific Northwest event. Anderson’s close friend, senior Maddy Sheppard, took seventh place in the dressage category at the June competition.
“Through the ups and downs we all stick together and are super close and always have fun together,” Anderson said of her friendship with Sheppard.
As Anderson prepares for her final year of high school competition, she’s added a goal to the long list she made as a freshman. She’s now focused on returning to the Pacific Northwest Invitational to defend her title as the No. 1 showmanship rider in the Pacific Northwest.