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Remember that embarrassing photograph of you in the high school yearbook that made you want to go steal everyoneâ€™s book and burn a hole in the space where it was? Well believe it or not the women on the Fresno State equestrian team feel that same wrath, not when they see humiliating pictures of themselves, but when they see one that makes their horse look unprofessional.
When interviewing Equestrian Coach Becky Malmo I learned that the appearance of a horse is extremely important, not just when being judged in a competition, but in team photographs. So important that the coach requested to see any photographs taken for The Collegian before publication and even showed me photographs of horses taken by media relations that were airbrushed.
â€œHorses have personalities just like we do,â€ she said, earlier in my interview. After putting the puzzle pieces together I realized this is probably the reason why the horse carries itself in photographs is important. They arenâ€™t like footballs or tennis rackets, no, not equipment used by players, rather they are essential members of the team.
I dare say equal to if not more important than the riders.
Itâ€™s a very confusing concept, but after about this for hours on end, it finally sank in: equestrian is the only sport (aside from bull-riding) I can think of that involves another living creature working with people to accomplish a task.
Of course I didnâ€™t include the photo issue in the article, because of relevance but I thought it was important to mention my thought process on this because as a reporter you truly learn and think about a million things a day that you would have never come across otherwise.
Iâ€™ve decided the idea of having horses pictured perfect isnâ€™t as ridiculous as I thought initially. In fact, after watching the marvelous animals perform at Saturdayâ€™s Best in the West Tournament, I realized how truly beautiful they are and how it makes sense that equestrians want to accent that beauty as much as possible.
After all, I didnâ€™t pay much attention to the riders, whose faces I could barely see from my spot in the bleachers. My attention was drawn to the horse as it galloped in circles and jumped over fences. I was impressed.
When speaking to rider Keri Blackledgeâ€™s father, Kevin Blackledge, he told me, â€œAnything that weighs a half a ton and runs 40 miles an hour you have to have respect for.â€
No one respects a horse like its rider, and with strict policies about photography all riders are trying to do is put an image out there of the horse that calls for otherâ€™s to respect it too, because it isnâ€™t just an animal to them, itâ€™s their teammate.