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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona equestrian set for Semi Finals in Tennessee

Senior+Mickey+Bagley+competes+in+the+Open+Horsemanship+on+Jan+29+at+Cal+Poly+Poloma.+Bagley+individually+qualified+for+Semi+Finals.
Courtesy of Emma Koproski
Senior Mickey Bagley competes in the Open Horsemanship on Jan 29 at Cal Poly Poloma. Bagley individually qualified for Semi Finals.

Arizona’s equestrian team will be competing for the first time in its history at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Western Semi Finals in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on March 19-20.

Despite being the smallest team in its region, which includes schools in Arizona and Southern California, the Wildcats managed to earn the title of High Point Team due to successful placings throughout the regular season and help from team captain and the region’s High Point Rider Mickey Bagley.

“We have built this team from nothing to something and the fact that we are riding in Semi Finals as the High Point Team being the smallest team in the region is just amazing,” Bagley said.

Bagley, a senior open division rider, earned her first High Point Rider of the region award at this year’s regional competition at Cal Poly Pomona in January, which also qualified her for a spot to compete in this year’s IHSA National Championships.

She was able to out-score the three-time reigning High Point Rider awardee from Cal Poly Pomona. Bagley represents the team in the highest level class in the open reining

The open reining division allows the rider to show control of the horse single handedly. In this class, competitors ride their horses through sliding stops, spins, as well as slow and fast lopes in each direction.

Reining is a high-speed, fast-paced event that challenges the rider tremendously to maintain control of the horse. The sliding stops are usually up to distances of 20 feet in which the horse slides on its hind legs — this requires sharply tuned skill and focus from the rider to control.

The catch-riding style of IHSA competition doesn’t make anything easier, as this is a style that allows no time to become familiar with the horse before the event. Riders essentially draw a random horse out of a hat, mount, adjust stirrups and enter the arena to ride.

Differently, NCAA equestrian riders are given time to warm up with their horse where the IHSA does not allow time. Riders are only given only brief details about the horse before saddling up.

The IHSA Western Semi Finals are the stepping stone before the collegiate equestrian association’s National Championships in May. A few Arizona riders have a chance to qualify for Nationals individually, like senior novice rider Anna Hilker, in addition to the possibility that the collective team could advance.

“We support each other in every way and are not going to get down on anyone if a low score is received,” Bagley said.

Bagley has a goal to qualify for Nationals during Semi Finals individually, rather than just from points received as the High Point Rider in the region. She will have to place in the top four out of a class of 16 to do so.

“I need to ride aggressive and just do it,” Bagley said.

In team competition, Bagley will represent the Wildcats in the open reining division, and every other division except walk-trot will hold a rider from the team. In the intermediate horsemanship division, sophomore Marlena Long will be representing Arizona. The novice division will be taken on by sophomore Emma Koprowski. Senior Brook Grobosky will ride in the advanced division, while her twin sister Bridget Grobosky will compete in the open horsemanship.

Bridget, also a senior, is Arizona equestrian’s club president and will be representing Arizona in the open division and individually in the advanced horsemanship. Horsemanship is an incredibly precise class in which riders wear structured hats, tucked-in clothes and are scored on their position and correct form while riding.

Koprowski is in her second year with the team and is riding in the novice division. She also competes in the horsemanship, which is scored on accuracy and execution of a given pattern, as well as the rider’s position and control of his or her mount.

Since Arizona’s equestrian team is a recent addition to the UA’s club sports, it does not receive funds from the school, but that will change beginning in the fall of this year after the standard probationary term is up.

“The support will be nice because it will feel like we are more of a part of the UA,” Koprowski said. “I’m happy with how far we have made it and it is awesome to be able to get to this point.”

The team will travel to Murfreesboro to compete in IHSA Semi Finals starting March 19.

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