Saturday, June 15, 2024

Duo reigns on last day with a little horsepower

Hagadone News Network | June 3, 2023 1:06 AM

SANDPOINT — This is one horse tale that will go down in school lore.

It isn't every day that students forgo driving their car or taking the bus for a different kind of horsepower — one that comes with four hooves and a tail.

But that is exactly what seniors Kelly Whitney and Taylor Peck did, opting to take advantage of an archaic Idaho law that allows students to ride a horse to school.

"I think it was just like a fun way to like exit our senior year on our last day of school and we get to hang out with our horses all day," Whitney said. "That's kinda like the last thing that a lot of the kids can remember their senior year, that their classmates rode their horse to school and, so, just a lasting memory for a bunch of us."

Like Whitney, Peck said she loved the idea of a mammalian conveyance on her last day of high school.

"I have a ton of, like, little cousins that go here," she said. "So I'm hoping that, their senior year, they find the encouragement to come and ride their horse to school, too."

The pair set the plan in motion, gaining the approval and support of parents, getting up early the day of and getting horses Newt and Katie ready in the Coffelt parking lot.

Quickly saddling the equines, they took Division and crossed to Kessa's, initially planning to get a cup of coffee before putting the java stop on hold to ensure on-time arrival.

The horses were initially a little uncertain about being on asphalt and concrete, but quickly adapted to the adventure, they said.

"Taylor's horse [Katie] didn't know what to think about the asphalt turning into concrete, and my horse, [Newt] was looking at her like, 'Yeah, I'm not going to do that if you're not going to do that,'" Whitney said. "But they got to be pretty good by the end."

The pair turned heads and gathered plenty of attention when they rode up after a quick stop-and-say-high at Sandpoint Middle School, where Whitney's mom, Liz Flanigan, works.

"The other kids were saying, 'oh my gosh, that's a horse,' and some people asked if that is a real horse that you're riding," Whitney said.

While the pair shared their plan with assistant principal Kari Garner, it was a surprise for principal Jacki Crossingham.

"She was a good sport," Whitney said. "She just whipped out her phone immediately and started videoing us."

The pair said they loved spending time with their horses and found it fun to bring them into town.

Not only did they get to greet everyone as they arrived at school, they liked that the school's staff and their fellow students were coming up, "loving on their horses and petting them."

The girls were inspired by Whitney's stepdad, Riley Flanigan, who, along with friends Nicholas Hawkins and Adrian Mitchell, discovered and took advantage of an old Idaho law requiring administrators to tend to the horses if students ride them to class during the last week of the school year.

Superintendent Dr. Becky Meyer, Sandpoint High School principal at the time, said she loved the creativity of Flanigan, Hawkins and Mitchell — so much so that she cared for the horses and later displayed their autographed picture in the office, where it has been displayed since the 2007 ride.

"It was such a hoot," Meyer said. "I was so lucky to be the principal the first time around when this obscure law was brought to my attention and I am happy to be here when the family tradition is carried on. How fun to live in Sandpoint."

"[They] have been dreaming of this day … as they have completed their senior year at SHS with grace, dignity and, of course, grit," Whitney's mom, Liz Flanigan said. "They rewarded themselves with a leisurely ride to school. Kelly is following in her stepdad's hoofprints and continuing the tradition."