Varsity equestrian is set up in a head-to-head format. The competition is made up of two different styles of riding, English and Western. Each style has two events that the student-athletes compete in to earn points for their team. The English competitors compete in Equitation on the Flat and Equitation over fences. The Western competitors compete in Horsemanship and Reining. In each event riders from each team compete head-to-head on the same horses which are provided by the hosting school. A random draw assigns the riders to specific horses and the student-athletes face the challenge of riding an unfamiliar horse after a brief warm-up. For each head-to-head match the rider with the highest score will receive one point for their team.
The English competition attire is very proper and professional. The rider wears tan colored stretch pants called breeches with suede knee patches to help them grip better in the saddle. The English competitor also wears a white, long sleeve, button up shirt known as a rat catcher. The shirt has a white collar that attaches around the rider's neck to help complete the clean look. There is also a long sleeve jacket worn in competition known as a hunt coat. To complete the look the rider will wear a black helmet for safety and black leather gloves.
The Western competition attire is a little bit more casual. The riders wear nice, clean jeans and cowboy boots. The competitor wears fitted suede or leather chaps around their jeans to help them stick better in the saddle. A button up cotton shirt is worn on top usually with the team's logo on the front. The look is topped off by a traditional cowboy hat.
Equitation on the Flat is scored on a scale of 0-100. A pattern is memorized by the rider consisting of nine maneuvers performed within a rectangular shaped arena known as a court. The judge watches the rider's position and effectiveness at guiding the horse through each individual maneuver.
Equitation over Fences is also scored on a scale of 0-100. Each rider jumps the same predetermined course made up of eight to ten jumps. Riders are judged on their position, consistency of pace and accuracy of leads, turns and distance to the fences while producing a smooth, polished performance.
Western Horsemanship and Reining is scored with a base of 70 points. There are eight maneuvers and an overall score. Each maneuver is awarded a score from -1.5 to +1/5 in half point increments. Horsemanship is a slower, more precise pattern judged based on pivots, stops, backing, circles, and consistency of pace. The riders overall effectiveness and posture in the saddle are also important factors.
Reining is judged on a fast paced pattern made up of spins, sliding stops, roll backs, circles, and lead changes. Riders are judged on symmetry of figures, variations of speed, size and symmetry of circles. The rider's position and effectiveness to get an unfamiliar horse through a predetermined pattern is also judged.
The Fresno State equestrian team will be competing on Saturday, October 23, at the Student Horse Center located on the south/east corner of Barstow and Woodrow. The 'Dogs will be taking on New Mexico State and admission is free.