DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

XCP student carries equestrian banner

Participating in equestrian competition among Arizona high schools is a rarity, but Xavier Prep has a rider who is carrying that banner.
She is Jacqueline Dickey, a junior, who competes in show jumping events and appears to be getting better each time out on the course.
Dickey said she has been riding for about 11 years, and is a member of the U.S. Equestrian Foundation  High School Equestrian Athlete Program. To be eligible for a varsity letter, a candidate must have 100 hours of training and be involved in three competitions during the year.
Dickey has that covered – she trains and competes year-round.
The trick is to ride your horse around the course, getting around the corners as fast as possible, and without knocking down the rails.
“It’s not always easy getting a “clean’’ round, but I have been fortunate to have a few. It is fun when you are able to do that,’’ Dickey said.
Dickey became interested in riding after watching her uncle, Ken, riding near his horse barn area in east-central Phoenix. She gradually worked her way up to training six days a week, mainly after school but occasionally in the morning, with a full day on weekends.
She enjoys working with the horses, but the workout doesn’t always include actual jumping. Much like human athletes, a horse will be involved in “conditioning,’’ walking or trotting at various speeds, moving side to side and using a different part of their body that allows them to become accustomed to the physical demands of competition.
She needed to learn the terminology and how to care for the horses when needed, such as brushing them and cleaning the tack (equipment).
“It was kind of difficult to learn at first, but the more you did it, the easier a lot of those things were,’’ Dickey said.
The schedule for Dickey is busy with school work, the equestrian and her involvement with the Xavier Gator Line dance team that performs at athletic and other school events.
“It can get pretty crazy, but I really enjoy everything, being at Xavier, It is exciting,’’ she said.
Many of her competitions are not in state, but a lot are in California and she said can involve as many as 2,000 horses.
She hopes to be able to continue riding in college. A decision on which school she will attend probably won’t come at least until later this year, but she has some visits lined up at schools that feature the sport, some of them in the South. She hopes to study a pharmacy-related curriculum.

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