Jacked For Equestrian Nationals

SDSU overcomes adversity to make Nationals in Equestrian

To understand why making nationals is such a big deal for the SDSU equestrian team…..

…You have to understand the circumstances, that go beyond their 3-8 record.

Ellie Wilkins, SDSU Equestrian Coach:”Honestly this year has been kind of a touch year…a great feeling to know that everything is coming together and our hard work does pay off…”

And that starts with trying to understand the sport itself.

Nicole Harvey, SDSU Senior:”There’s 4 disciplines and in each discipline you have 4-5 riders.”

Wilkins:”There’s hunt seat and western. Western is the type of saddles they use at the rodeo like with a horn…”

Alyssa Greenwood, SDSU Junior:”Over fences you jump of course, that’s what you see on TV in the Olympics and on the flat there’s a pattern that you ride..Patience is a big part of it and just being a compassionate rider. Really you have to listen to what the horse is telling you…”

It’s one thing for the girls to work with these horses, they do every day, but when they go on the road and to nationals, they have to work with an entirely different horse that they only have a few minutes to get to know.

Harvey:”You get 4 minutes to get acquainted with the horse you draw randomly and you try to do the best you can…”

Add to it that this Jackrabbit team had to coach themselves in several disciplines with no assistant coach for Ellie Wilkins.

Harvey:”In practice we’ll get together and decide what drills to do…We’ll go and give each other advice or corrections…”

And with just 22 equestrian programs nation wide, and schools across the country in budget crunches forced to cut sports, it’s a spectre that can hang over them.

Wilkins:”I think that’s probably something that all equestrian teams probably worry about. It makes it a little hard but we’re just taking it day by day and season by season. Currently at this point I’m not too worried. I know we’re going to have a team next season…”

Making this trip….

Harvey:”I think it’s a really big deal that we’ve been able to persevere through this year, especially not having a western coach and make it to nationals…”

….Even more special.

In Brookings, Zach Borg, KDLT Sports.

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