Georgia Southern Equestrian team heads to Nationals

Cameron Dunn

The Georgia Southern equestrian team will be representing the University when they travel to Lexington, KY for Nationals on May 9.

This sport works a little bit differently than football, basketball, softball or other more well-known sports for that matter. The team travels to about 10 shows per year and competes individually for 10 points, which are based off of positioning of the horse and the jumps during each event.

So while some sports rely on teamwork and chemistry, these riders must showcase their overall skills for the craft to be judged high.

“One cool thing about being on this team is that it gives people the chance to continue their riding careers in college while competing against riders at their level. We are diverse, so it ranges from beginners to more experienced riders,” Club President Brennan Perry said.

When asked what the hardest thing about this sport was that others didn’t realize, Perry’s answer was simple.

“It takes time and practice. Everyone thinks they can just get up and participate in horse-back riding, and they can, but it takes time, practice, hard work and discipline,” Perry said.

The qualifications for Nationals are complex. The season starts in August, and the riders can choose between the English team and or the Western team competing throughout the Fall and Spring. Once the rider gets 36 points, they qualify for Regionals, Zones and then Nationals. There are over 400 teams nationally, meaning competition is extremely high.

The Eagles sent Allison Gilbert to nationals last year, and this year freshman Rachel Bird will get her shot and is thrilled.

“I’m beyond excited, there are not words to describe how excited I am,” Bird said.

Bird began riding in the 6th grade under the same coach who would eventually lead her to Nationals, GS’s head coach Eleanor Ellis.

She will have to use the horse they give her, leading to a lot of uncertainty, but Bird is confident and will look to do her best and represent GS well.