For junior Maddy Racicot, competing in a national equestrian competition may have cost her precious time she would have spent studying for her AP exams, but it all paid off when she won the championship title.
On April 29, Racicot placed first out of 18 competitors for hunt seat equitation at the 2022 Interscholastic Equestrian Association Nationals Finals in Pennsylvania.
“I was considering not going because it involved me missing four days of school,” Racicot said. “But I ended up being really glad that I went.”
Throughout the season, the Langley resident worked her way to the finals by accruing points at several other competitions.
The Interscholastic Equestrian Association, or IEA, hosts competitions for middle school and high school students. The finals this year drew 754 competitors from all over the nation.
The event that Racicot competed in required her to get acquainted with riding a brand-new horse. Riders are judged on their positioning and how easily they are able to adapt to an unfamiliar horse.
“It’s a very unique structure,” Racicot said. “There aren’t many shows like that, in the sense that you get on an unknown horse.”
The IEA competitions, she explained, are also unique because they allow riders to compete without taking on the financial burden of providing their own horses and tack.
“The riding culture can be kind of elitist in the sense that a lot of times you can’t really show at a high level unless you have a really extensive horse,” she said.
Racicot was the only rider from Whidbey Island to compete in the IEA finals. Because Whidbey doesn’t have an IEA team, she rides for the Sharkey Farm team out of Snoqualmie, which is coached and managed by Sharkey Farm owner and trainer Kate Sharkey and trainer Tiffany Woods.
Since she was six years old, Racicot has trained and volunteered for riding instructor Sarah Moulton of Harmony Hill Stables in Freeland.
“She’s definitely the one that has given me all the knowledge and experience to be able to do this,” Racicot said of Moulton.
This year as a junior at South Whidbey High School, Racicot is earning CTE credit as a working student at Harmony Hill Stables. In this role, she helps take care of the horses, mentors the younger students that ride in the lesson program and trains one of Moulton’s young horses.
Although she doesn’t currently have a horse of her own, Racicot is confident they will always be a part of her life. Next year will be the last year that she will be eligible to participate in the IEA competitions.