Valley Native always had a passion for horseback riding, now she’s taking skills to world’s largest stage

Tokyo 2020

FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – The Tokyo Olympics start in just nine days, there are several valley natives competing in the games, including Fresno State Alumni Lauren Billys.

Billys will be competing in the three-day-long Equestrian Eventing series. The first day of the series is dressage where the pair will be judged on balance and precision. The second day of the competition is a 30-mile course with several obstacles including water and jumps. The final day is stadium jumping.

“If you have guts and you have dreams,” said Billys. “You can get it done on any given day. So, I think that is the Olympic spirit. Let’s give them something to talk about and let’s give it all when it really matters.”

Billys competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is slated to compete in Tokyo in the coming weeks alongside Team Puerto Rico, where her grandmother grew up.

Billys always knew she wanted to be a horseback rider. As a toddler, she would use a broom or the family dog to get her around the house.

“It really was in my blood from a very young age,” said Billys. “I would like to say it came from my heritage and my lineage. My great grandfather was a pediatrician that rode horseback from farm to farm treating patients.”

“Once Lauren got a little older, her mother Betsy brought her and her two siblings to a Central Valley stable.

“I took them to this pace and there were like five thousand flies, burning hot, and they absolutely loved it,” said Betsy.

Lauren started riding frequently in Woodlake, California and at age 13 while in the classroom at Green Acres Middle School, she manifested her goal of competing in the Olympics.

“I drew it on my school assignment, that is what I would do with my life,” said Lauren. “I truly believe that I visualized that dream ever since then.”

In 2014, she met her horse Purdy who would make that dream a reality.

“A real quirky personality,” Lauren said as she described her partner. “He is very stoic. He is very strong. He is super brave. He is a don’t tell me what to do attitude but also incredibly confident and kind.”

Purdy is one of the oldest horses to compete in the Olympics this year. The Equestrian Eventing runs from July 31-August 2.

Billys is in Germany quarantining and will head to Tokyo soon.

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