Bulldog Equestrian Blog

Laura Hachman
Fresno State Athletic Communications

February 21, 2010
4:09 p.m.

Saddle Club Shines
Behind every good team is a support group that puts in tremendous work behind the scenes. For the Bulldogs, it's the Saddle Club, an enthusiastic, hard-working group of parents, supporters and equestrian enthusiasts who have revolutionized the event atmosphere and experience for fans and student-athletes by taking it to the next level.

Started two years ago by co-presidents Peg Barnes and Jody Ladwig, the Saddle Club was initially created to offer parents of student-athletes a place to mingle at events while seeking to educate the community about the sport of equestrian and the team, an activity many know little about. Their goal was to support the ladies on the team and raise money for the program.

"Before the club was started most parents of the girls didn't know who each other were, and many people didn't know much about equestrian." said Barnes, mother of former team member Sara Barnes. "We started off by printing programs that explained the ins and outs of the sport and it went from there."

The Saddle Club works hard during Bulldog equestrian events.

Now the club has grown in more ways than one, transforming the air of home events at the Student Horse Center into a festive setting offering everyone everything from an array of fabulous country themed foods with a concession stand to raffles and a silent auction featuring items donated by parents.

"Everyone just pitches in each way they can and it is a team effort," said Barnes. "We auction off everything from DVDs to wine, gift baskets, chocolate and blankets. Harris Ranch donated meat to barbecue and we offer a variety of drinks, chips, snacks, chili boats and Starbuck's coffee available for purchase. We recognize the difficulty of finding these accommodations while traveling, so we offer breakfast and lunch to our visiting teams as well." But the action doesn't stop there. The Saddle Club has also created masses of sizzling swag customized just for equestrian. Hats, shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, aprons, posters and calendars are also sold at home events, offering something for everyone.

And the efforts of every member of this group have truly enhanced and reached the experience of all student-athletes. Bulldog mom Terri Jory put together "goody bags" for the entire team, an idea similar to that of a college care package for the team when they travel, which includes items such as puzzles, chapstick, games and words of encouragement.

"We put together a binder for the girls with a collection of emails, words of encouragements and pictures so they can all take it with them when they travel," said Jory. "This way all of the girls get notes and have that support when they are far away. All of the club members got involved with this, too."

Now the Saddle Club looks to maintain the great evolution they have worked so hard to bring to the team and the community, a standout team of supporters who add great merriment to an exciting, challenging sport unseen by many other programs.

"We want to keep the atmosphere and the momentum going," said Barnes. "We're here to support the girls and it is just a great group of people." For more information on the Saddle Club and how to join, please visit click the icon under the sports clubs tab.

Steve Weakland
Fresno State Media Relations

February 28, 2009
9:47 p.m. PT

Rebecca's Rocks
Many athletes have superstitions or unique idiosyncrasies that help them.

Senior Rebecca Flood will be competing for the last time at home on Saturday, Feb. 28.

For senior Bulldog equestrian rider Rebecca Flood, hers is a rock. Actually, she has four of them.

Flood, a senior captain who competes in Western Horsemanship, has four small rocks that she carries with her in a wood heart-shaped box. The rocks, about the diameter of quarter, help her as she competes.

She carriers one of them in her right hand during each ride. She only uses her left hand on the horse's reins to guide the animal, but in order to maintain proper posture and position with her free hand that rock serves as a reminder her to keep her hand in alignment.

She got the idea when competing at Georgia earlier this year. She noticed that each of the Georgia riders rode with the palm of the free hand facing the sky. She tried it but her hand would eventually fall. Head coach Becky Malmo suggested she carry a rock and to concentrate on not dropping it.

According Flood, there's nothing significant about any of the rocks.

"They are just random old rocks we found around the arena," she said. Her first rock was a smooth, pebble-like rock. Others are jagged and broken. And, according to Flood, none are luckier than any other and she selects them randomly before competition.

"One of my rocks that I won MVP with is one of the bigger rocks and is harder to hold, so I don't use it as much," she said. "It really doesn't matter which rock I use."

Flood is one of eight seniors competing in her last home event today. A Valley native, Flood lives on a 40-acre ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auberry. They own eight horses. During her career, she has been one of the top performers in Bulldog history during her four-year career. Flood is a dietetics and food administration major who will be graduating in May 2010.

Katie Nenneker
Oak Park, Calif.

Katie was the inaugural Bulldog Award winner in 2008 for her hard work in her sport, academic achievement and commitment to community service.

Friday, Feb. 27, 2009
8:19 a.m.

This weekend is my last home competition in my athletic career at Fresno State.

Katie Nennker is among eight Bulldog seniors who will compete in their final home meet Saturyday vs. South Carolina. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Student Horse Center and admission is free.

I'm torn between relief and sadness as I look back at all the hard work and time I've put into this team. The relationships I've made will last a life-time along with the memories of the good times and the bad.

Seeing old horses move on to new homes and retirement, and new horses welcomed into the program, I see I am the old horse now.

At one time I was new and fresh and ready to soak up every adventure on the field and in the classroom. Its time for a new horse to take my place as the never-ending cycle of work and play continues.

I'm ready to leave my niche, the one I've been so comfortable in for the last four years and be a spectator at an event, ready to have some "me" time. As sad as it is to end this triumphant chapter in my life, Ill walk away with a tear and smile.

Bulldog Equestrian Blog

Steve Weakland
Fresno State Media Relations

February 10, 2009
3:07 p.m. PT

Coach Becky Malmo and her team have great respect for judges.

Judging Tips
In a sport like Equestrian, or any sport that is decided subjectively by a judges' decision, it's hard to make people happy unless everyone gets a perfect score.

Such is the case in the life of a sports judge. In sports like boxing and gymnastics, judges get crucified for making a bad decision or giving deductions.

Equestrian judges determine the outcome of the matches by scoring the riders and horses based on their performance. There is no video replay and the decision is final.

What I found interesting is that after each meet, the judge meets with all of the riders to debrief them on their rides, and actually provided tips of how to improve and receive better scores.

I can't imagine many other sports where the officials ever meet with the student-athletes to discuss such things.

In the heat of the battle on a football field or basketball court, coaches and officials get into some interesting discussions and the good officials are those who can explain to an angered coach what they saw and why they made the call they did. But never do the officials come into the locker room afterward to talk to the team about why calls were made, what they were thinking, and give the players instruction on how to improve. While the student-athletes and coach may still disagree with a score or decision, at least the process after the fact allows to some interaction between the officials and participants.

Maybe others could take a page from the equestrian judges' handbook.

Steve Weakland
Fresno State Media Relations

February 5, 2009
2:50 p.m. PT

Bring on the Dawgs
Fresno State is pleased to welcome the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs to campus this weekend. It's a rematch of the two teams from their September meet in Athens, Ga.

I remember hearing some of the ladies talk about their trip to Georgia last fall, and one common theme came up was that some of the Georgia riders chatted with the Bulldogs about Fresno State's baseball national championship.

Jill Tebbe is one of the Bulldog western riders who will be leading the team against defending national champion Georgia and No. 10 New Mexico State this weekend.

The Fresno State Bulldogs beat the Georgia Bulldogs in a three-game series to win the College World Series in late June, but apparently some of the Dawgs from Georgia still had some hurt feelings from Fresno State winning the national championship.

Fresno State will try to knock off the defending VENC championship this weekend at the Student Horse Center. Georgia won the first match 12-8, but home field advantage in equestrian brings on a whole new meaning as student-athletes have to not only learn their surroundings but must learn how to work with a new animal.

The riders each have four minutes of prep and warm-up time to get ready, so there is a huge advantage for a rider who's been on a horse before.

The Bulldogs have also built up a nice "WAC" rivalry with New Mexico State, team that ranked 10th in the nation heading into this weekend match. The Bulldogs and Aggies are the only two WAC teams that sponsor equestrian.

Competition Schedule for Saturday (Feb. 7)
Equitation on the Flat: NMSU vs. FS, UGA vs. NMSU
Equitation over Fences: UGA vs. NMSU
Western Horsemanship: FS vs. NMSU
Reining: NMSU vs. FS, UGA vs. NMSU

Competition Schedule for Sunday (Feb. 8)
Equitation on the Flat: UGA vs. FS
Equitation over Fences: FS vs. NMSU, FS vs. UGA
Western Horsemanship: UGA vs. FS, NMSU vs. UGA
Reining: UGA vs. FS

Looking Ahead
Fresno State has a busy February with two more weekends planned. Next weekend (Feb. 14-15) the Bulldogs host the annual Best in the West Invitational with Tennessee-Martin, South Dakota State and TCU coming to the Student Horse Center. Then after a weekend off, the Dogs will conclude their 2008-09 home schedule with two nationally ranked teams, South Carolina and Baylor, for meets on Feb. 28 and March 1.

January 26, 2009
11:14 a.m.

Fresno State's Jennifer Jory won MVP honors in equitation over fences last weekened against Miami (Ohio).

Reflections of Last Weekend The Dogs held their first meet of the spring last Saturday and while the final score of Fresno State 12, Miami (Ohio) 9 was a nice ending to a long day, it didn't tell the real story of what happened.

First of all, the rain during the week completely soaked both arena. So much so that Fresno State's Director of Events Nate Wills and facilities coordinator Jason Percival spent hours pumping water from the arena. While both guys were up to their wastes in mud and water, there was so much water that the horses and riders still had to splash through dozens of puddles during the course of the meet.

The members of the team were also hard at work getting the arena ready, from repeatedly dragging it with a tractor to setting up the fences to make sure the horses and riders would be safe. While it rained sporadically during the event, the riders were rewarded with some bright sunshine.

Head coach Becky Malmo and the event managers had safety on their mind throughout the day. It wasn't the first time this season the Dogs have competed in rainy conditions. The Dogs had to battle similar weather conditions in South Dakota and Delaware. Malmo was pleased the event ran so smoothly despite the wet conditions.

Fresno State's team, with just a week to prepare for the events, performed well. It was a great warm-up for one of the biggest events of the season Feb. 7-8 when defending national champion Georgia and No. 10 ranked New Mexico State.

Credit also goes to the Saddle Club, which came out in full force to help the team. They ran the concessions stand, making delicious burgers and sold Fresno State equestrian apparel. That group works hard to help the coaches and student-athletes in a variety of ways, and they bravely battled the cool and wet weather conditions to support their team.

Steve Weakland
Fresno State Media Relations

January 21, 2009
4:55 p.m.

Malmo to Cincy
Wednesday found Head coach Becky Malmo back in the ring, working with horses and student-athletes. While working with sophomore Asheline Beeson, she was excited about this week's home event and the beginning of the spring semester. The Dogs host Miami (Ohio) at 10 a.m. at the Student Horse Center. Admission is free.

Malmo and some Bulldog staffers just returned from the United States Equestrian Federation national convention last week in Cincinnati. Attending the convention were all of the national equestrian coaches and Malmo said several good things came from the meeting.

First of all, she was able to work with other coaches to finalize the 2009-10 competition schedule. (It will be announced publicly at a later date.)

Secondly, a few modifications have been made to the Varsity Equestrian Nation Championship format for the 2009 championships held in April in Waco, Texas. Most notably, there will be double the number of riders competing for an individual championship in each of the four disciplines (Flat, Fences, Western Horsemanship and Reining). Starting this year eight riders will be competing for national titles.

Last year Lisa Wells was the only Bulldog to reach the "final four" of the individual events as she was ranked No. 3 in the nation in Equitation over Fences.

Malmo predicts with the new format, Fresno State will have a few more riders competing for individual national titles.

The Bulldogs enter this week with a two-match winning streak and are currently ranked No.8 in the nation.

Flood Featured on Bulldog Insider Show
Fans can keep an eye out for a television feature on senior Rebecca Flood. She will be interviewed by KSEE 24 reporters on Thursday afternoon at the Student Horse Center for a profile about her for an upcoming episode of the Bulldog Insider Show, which airs on KSEE Sunday evenings. GoBulldogs.com will also run the video feature once it's finished.

Flood has been one of the top western riders in the program during her brilliant career. She earned a huge win earlier this season against defending national champion Georgia, leading the Bulldog Western Horsemanship riders to a 3-2 victory.

A Valley native (Auberry), she has been selected a team captain for two straight years and is looking forward to an exciting February home schedule that includes No. 3 Georgia, and four other Top 10 ranked teams (South Carolina, Baylor, TCU and New Mexico State).

Katie Nenneker
Oak Park, Calif.

Katie was the inaugural Bulldog Award winner in 2008 for her hard work in her sport, academic achievement and commitment to community service.

Oct. 11, 2008
The past two days, including today, have been very hectic with three midterms this week, and four between Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Along with my seven midterms, research paper and mountain of chemistry homework, we are finally hosting our first home show! We are so ready to host our first show and so excited to ride at home.

The team has been working non-stop to beautify the property and putting the finishing touches on our horses to have them look the best they can be before our guests arrive. Sleep has been very minimal during this busy time but all the girls and I are out at the barn working hard to get things ready.

It is worth it for the end result of a WIN! We are so pumped! The competition starts at 10:00, we will be there at 7:00 to get it all started, and goes until 3:00 so COME OUT AND WATCH!! We would love any fan support! Hope to see you all there.

Oct. 11, 2008
We arrived at Sioux Falls on Friday cold and rainy weather then drove an hour to the Days Inn hotel. I roomed with Shawna McClurg, who is hilarious and so much fun to room with.

We ended up talking for hours before falling asleep last night.

At 7:45 a.m. we were up and out, unless you wanted Starbucks then you left with the 7:00 van. Not me, I want all the sleep I can get in the morning!

The show started at 10 a.m. with fences and the horses were a bit crazier than the ones we are used to. Everyone had a little trouble putting in the rides we needed.

Poor Tarynn (Shada) drew the craziest horse to ride in her flat pattern, we were literally biting our nails watching her ride that horse!

On the western side, the girls had the same troubles with the horses but rode their hearts out and did so well. Although we all tried our best, South Dakota State, beat us in the end.

Our flight out leaves tomorrow at 7:45 at night and tomorrow and we return to Fresno to start getting ready to go against against Oklahoma State!

Oct. 12, 2008
We actually got to sleep in! Check out was at Noon and we had nothing to do until then.

I slept until 11:15 a.m., pushing it to the max considering sleep is luxury we usually cannot afford, and I was up late reading Twilight and talking to Shawna.

We ate lunch at Applebee's again for the second day in a row since nowhere else could accommodate the 25 of us.

We visited the show grounds to watch SDSU compete against Minnesota, which is trying to become a NCAA team. Then it was off to a mall where people stared at the strange girls in all matching travel suits, before we arrived at the airport and waited three hours for our flight. We are ready to be home.

Oct. 13, 2008
We just got back from South Dakota last night and didn't get to bed until about Midnight, so as you can imagine we are all quite tired sauntering into our classes Monday morning. I finished Twilight on the plane home and that book was so much fun to read. It's being passed around the team and we all hooked!

The weekend was long but fun being with all the girls. We are really ready to host our home show on Oct. 25th and show everyone how it's done in Fresno!

# # #

Steve Weakland
Fresno State Media Relations

Oct. 8, 2008
1:17 p.m. PT

National Poll Announced
Last week the first-ever national equestrian poll was released and we at Fresno State are proud that the poll was born in Fresno.

Last spring assistant coach Stephanie Reeves and I met to discuss some ways to help the sport continue to grow. In her attempt to better understand the football BCS and different ranking systems used to determine which teams will be selected for postseason play, we got into the discussion of the polls and how they are factored, specifically as it relates to the sport of college football. We thought a national equestrian poll was a good idea.

Since equestrian didn't have a national poll at the time, she made an excellent presentation to the national coaches group as a governing body and it was agreed that creating a Top 10 ranked poll, similar what other sports have, would be a great way to bring more attention to the equestrian programs and the sport itself.

After flushing out the details a national polling panel was selected. The panel includes coaches and equine experts. The Fresno State Media Relations Office conductions, administers and releases the poll to the media.

The Dogs were ranked No. 8 in the first poll, which is a combined ranking of the English and Western teams.

In a closer look at the poll, Fresno State will compete against each of the top six ranked teams in the nation this season. That's some tough competition!