Dressage Foundation’s Century Club gets two new members

Herman Aguayo and his horse, Wasim. - Michelle Beahm/Staff Photo
Herman Aguayo and his horse, Wasim.
— image credit: Michelle Beahm/Staff Photo

By MICHELLE BEAHM | Staff Writer

With a combined age of 103, Herman Aguayo and his horse, Wasim, have applied for entry into the Dressage Foundation’s Century Club.

The Century Club was founded in 1996 to honor senior riders and horses who still are active.

According to their website, “The Century Club ride has evolved into a serious endeavor that encourages and rewards our older senior riders. The rider need not show everything at their level of ride, but it is important to show that rider and horse work well together.”

There are more than 130 members of the Century Club. Aguayo and Wasim will be only the sixth team from Washington.

For entry into this club, the combined ages of horse and rider need to be at least 100, and they need to complete a dressage test in front of an official judge before sending in the necessary paperwork to be officially recognized as members of this club.

Aguayo and Wasim completed their test on July 7.

“It was really fun,” Aguayo said. “There was a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen in a lot a lot of years.

“Don’t know how they found out about it, but they came to watch and after I rode, they congratulated me.”

Wasim, a 28-year-old Arabian, was born at the Sawda Equestrian Center, owned by Aguayo and his wife, Cathy. Wasim was orphaned at 3 weeks old, and Aguayo had to bottle feed him.

Eventually, Wasim was sold to a girl who competed with him in dressage throughout the country and Canada. After joining the military, she sold Wasim to another girl, though after she moved to college, Wasim found his way back to Aguayo.

“He was born here, and he’s going to die here,” Cathy Aguayo said.

Though Wasim has had a lifetime of experience with dressage, Aguayo himself is new to the event.

“That was my first dressage test ever,” he said.

When he was around 18 years old, Aguayo instead competed in rodeos, riding bulls and broncos to win buckles, not ribbons. In the intervening years, he’s competed in other equestrian events, such as saddle seat, which is an event that showcases the movements and abilities of horses, particularly high-stepping and gaited breeds, such as the American Saddlebred and Arabians.

Aguayo has been riding horses since he was 10 years old, and has owned Sawda Equestrian Center since retiring from the Marine Corps in 1994. After moving to Washington at that time, he worked for Keyport for a few years before he was medically retired due to a back injury. Since then, he has devoted his time to Sawda Equestrian Center.

He one served time as vice president of the Lower Puget Sound Dressage Club. He may have never competed in the event until recently, but his horses and students have for years. He also started a 4-H club to teach people how to ride.

“I said I was going to keep it at 10,” said Aguayo, referring to the membership of his club. “When I quit 16 years later, I had 50 kids in my club.”

In recent years, Aguayo hasn’t been able to ride as much as he used to. With two bad knees, he wasn’t able to ride for a few years until eventually getting surgery to fix the problems. Aguayo said that during the time he wasn’t able to ride due to the pain, he couldn’t wait to be able to get back on a horse.

“As soon as I got the OK from the doctor to go ahead and start riding, then little by little I started getting back on and getting used to (it),” he said. “I decided once I get my knees right, and I can ride, I’m going to go for the Century Club before something else breaks down.”

Prior to his test, Aguayo and Wasim spent about a month training with Shannon Lockwood, a dressage rider that shows two of Aguayo’s horses.

“The horse is retired, so all he does is run around our yard and munch grass and get in trouble,” said Aguayo, laughing. “So I did the basic dressage class, the intro, because of his age. I didn’t want to put too much strain on him. If he’d been younger, I would’ve gone for a higher test, but we just did the walk-trot.”

Aguayo said that he might start competing in dressage in the future, because he enjoyed it, but if he does, he won’t be riding Wasim. Instead, he’ll ride Wasim’s 9-year-old brother Sawda Shetan. Both were sired by the late Prince Sawda, another horse of Aguayo’s.

“It’s quite an honor to be able to still be able to get on a horse, at my age, and ride,” Aguayo said. “I hope I can still do it at 100. And if I get to 100 myself, then I’ll probably do it again on a younger horse.”


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