Fresno State sophomore Alexandra Dirickson during a competition on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Fresno State Animal Science Pavilion. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Riders tested in luck of the draw

The Fresno State equestrian team is gearing up for two more regular-season competitions before it heads to finals and then nationals.

There is one home competition, scheduled for March 3 at 10 a.m. against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Senior Taylor Brown said the most recent competition was dragged out by the rain, but the team made it work.

“Animal science has an indoor arena, and we’re really fortunate that we get to use it,” Brown said. “We usually show two competitions at a time because we have two rings here [at Fresno State], but we could only show one event at a time over there, so it dragged out our day a bit.”

Assistant coach McKenzie Lantz said the day was 18 hours long, starting at 6 a.m. and ending midnight.

The team’s determination mostly comes from their 28-member roster, with young women ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Junior Taylor Dixon described the team as a “well-oiled machine.” Dixon talked about equestrian as an individual sport, explaining how the members of the team don’t start out in this sport in a team setting.

“You’re used to being with your own horse and trainer and [having] parents supporting you to be the best you,” Dixon said. “But when you come here, you have to be the best you for them. It’s ‘Bulldogs,’ not ‘Taylor Dixon.’”

The student-athletes ride team horses, some bring their own for the team to use. When it comes to competing, they don’t know which horse they are going to ride; the horses are drawn at random.

The team also uses horses from the schools in which they compete..

“I personally find it thrilling,” Brown said. “We really get to test our skills on different horses.”

That is part of the sport. Signs on the barn door near the entrance and exit warn that the sport has inherent risk purely because the second half of the team consists of 1,200-pound animals, with minds of their own.