In its first year ever on campus, the equestrian team is set to finish its regular season Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks before heading off to the national championship in Waco.The Horned Frogs will compete against an opponent they will most likely face in the first round of the Varsity Equestrian National Championship, held April 18 through 20. Both teams have earned bids to the championship – TCU in the Western horsemanship event and South Carolina in Western and Hunt Seat, also referred to as English riding.
The Horned Frogs are seated high going into this tournament. The team knocked off the defending national champion Auburn Tigers for its first-ever win March 1. South Carolina lost overall to Auburn in February.
Head coach Gary Reynolds said TCU’s inaugural team is extremely talented.
“I’ve been lucky to get some solid recruiting done to add to the world-class riders we already have here on campus,” Reynolds said.
TCU already has some award-winning riders with junior Nicole Barnes, who earned the 2006 Sooner All-Around Amateur award at the American Quarter Horse Association on March 8. The award, although not TCU-affiliated, was for accumulating the most points in individual competitions.
The Horned Frogs are now three weeks removed from the upset on of SEC powerhouse Auburn, where Barnes earned her first MVP of the season with a horsemanship score of 72.5.
Junior Kindel Huffman, who competes in English, horsemanship and reining for the Frogs, said the team will be using tomorrow’s matchup as practice for the national tournament.
Huffman said the overall score will be close because TCU’s Western team is strong, but South Carolina’s English team, which is 9-0 this season, is equally as strong.
“It may even be a tie,” Huffman said. “We’ll do the whole routine – walk, trot, canter, back up and stop – and whoever does the best wins.”
In her last home contest, Huffman topped her Auburn opponent in the reining event by a score of 69.5-64.
Reynolds said his riders have been working hard to make their riding patterns to perfection.
“The name of our game is executing our patterns,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the South is more English-heavy with top teams such as Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina, but that Fort Worth is one of the centers of Western riding.
“We’re looking to measure our Hunt Seat girls against some of the best,” Reynolds said of Saturday’s matchup.