The University of South Carolina, the University of Georgia and Auburn University will compete in South Carolina, hosted by the Gamecocks.
All three teams are Southern Equestrian Championship record-holders.
“The Southern Equestrian Championships is a very competitive meet for us because both USC and UGA are very good teams,” said Jillian Fuller, senior and current MVP of Auburn’s equestrian team.
Auburn will receive a first-round bye during the first day of the competition because of its previous victory against USC.
“Having a bye will benefit us since we will only have to compete one day,” Fuller said. “We will be able to use this week to put all of our efforts into learning only one pattern per event.
“We will be able to really mentally prepare ourselves to go for the win.”
The opening round of the Southern Equestrian Championships will be between South Carolina and Georgia March 25 at 2 p.m.
The winner of South Carolina and Georgia will determine who will compete against the Auburn Tigers on the second day of the event, March 26.
Auburn currently possesses a 9–3 record for the SEC competitions, the best record in the SEC.
“We’ve had a lot of tough road meets this season,” said Greg Williams, Auburn’s coach.
Auburn was defeated by UGA in a February competition by a raw score tiebreaker, and then prevailed by winning against No. 6 South Carolina with a 10–9 victory.
“The season leading up to the championships is very competitive,” said Ali Loprete, senior MVP in fences on Auburn’s equestrian team.
“We had to beat some very difficult teams away and at home in order to come out on top.”
The Auburn equestrian team has been practicing for the event on the 60 acres of the Auburn University Horse Center.
“The team is really strong this year, and we have been working very well as a team both in the arena and out,” Fuller said.
“We have a really good foundation and will be working in practices this week on perfecting our pattern work and fine tuning our positions.”
However, it seems perfecting patterns isn’t all on which the girls will be focusing.
“One of the biggest things is that we need to push a little more,” Williams said.
In a competition where riders are given limited time with their assigned horses and eliminated for falling off a horse, the competition for this year’s championships is expected to be challenging.
“It’ll be challenging, but right now I expect us to win it,” Williams said.
“When it comes down to it, riding isn’t good enough—it’s who wants it more.”
Along with Williams, assistant coaches Lindsay Neubarth and Lisa Helfer have been pushing the team through the season.
“We have a great team with a lot of talent, and I’m confident our coaches will lead us to a win,” Loprete said.