Riders train with different horses to prepare for competitions

Baylor equestrian riders warm up with their horses before their ride against Oklahoma State University. Olivia Martin | Photographer

By Briana Garcia | Reporter

In equestrian events, the horse is the most significant component when it comes to practicing and competing. Unfortunately, riders have to train with new horses every day to prepare themselves for competition, especially for away meets.

“In daily practice, the coach will assign us a horse for the day,” western riding junior Gabrielle Marty said. “ A lot of times at practice, we will end up switching the horse to help prepare us for competition.”

There are four categories in equestrian: Flat, Fences, Horsemanship and Reining. Each category only has four minutes to get to know their horse before they step into the arena. This is a unique situation that Baylor tries to replicate during practice.

“We try to simulate that as much as possible and switch horses so that we are more prepared for that meet,” Marty said.

Jumping seat is a discipline in equestrian where horses jump over fences and tracks in a jumper ring. In this category, riders not only have to deal with different personalities of the horses but account for different stride patterns as well.

“You really have to adjust those strides because you’ll have a jump in line with another jump, and you actually physically walk the number of steps between each jump,” jumping seat junior Brooke Giacin said.

Giacin said three human steps is equal to one horse stride and it’s essential to walk the entire course. Depending on what kind of horse the rider has, they have to see if their stride is shorter or longer as each horse weaves and turns differently than others.

“You might have to do six strides versus a horse like Casanova who might do five strides,” Giacin said. “You have to understand the horse’s capability and understand that a horse might have a bigger stride than another horse.”

After the first jump, riders typically get a sense of how the horse will run and if their stride is long or short for the course.

“Maybe I have to stay out wide longer to make more room, or I need to cut to make less room, and it’s just about adjusting to the horse’s stride and speed,” Giacin said.

Marty said the horses help provide a home-field advantage as the home team has a prior relationship with the horses, but the away team doesn’t.

“When you’re at home, you have ridden those horses all week,” Marty said. “If you’re on your home horse, then you’re at an advantage because you know those little quirks that the horses have, and you’re more prepared.”

No. 3 Baylor (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) heads to Diamond Creek Ranch in Burleson at 10 a.m. on Friday for a matchup with No. 9 TCU (3-4, 0-2 Big 12).