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Mandi Bierly
August 03, 2012 AT 08:00 PM EDT

Saturday marks the start of the equestrian team show jumping competition, which awards medals on Aug. 6. The Americans are two-time defending Olympic champions, and seeing if the U.S. will three-peat is just one reason to tune in. (Check out the TV listings here.) “I think the great thing about show jumping is the partnership with the horse. To jump those huge jumps clean, there has to be such a tight connection with the horse and rider,” says first-time Olympian Reed Kessler, 18, who’ll ride Cylana. “And what a lot people don’t know about the sport is that it really is 24-7. You spend all day, every day, planning. Picking a farrier to shoe your horse, a vet, what equipment you use on your horse, who takes care of the horse, where you’re gonna show, what class you’re gonna show in, how you’re gonna prepare in the morning. There’s so many different aspects of it.”

The top 25 riders from the team competition, with a maximum of three riders per nation, will then compete in the individual event. The rider order is in reverse of the standings, so the leader has the pressure of going last when those medal winners are named Aug. 8. “I think it was absolutely people on the edge of their seats during the [U.S.] selection trials when I went last,” says Kessler, who tied for first. “It’s an amazing sport. It’s a shame it isn’t more popular here, because we’re reigning Olympic gold medalists twice over. But it’s picking up speed.”

If you need another reason to root for Kessler in particular, try this one: She’s a huge fan of USA’s Psych. “I love True Blood, but nothing’s as great as Psych,” she told EW earlier this year. “If you look on my Facebook wall, my best friend and I just go back and forth with Psych quotes all day long. It’s the most brilliant thing to ever happen to television. I think I’ve personally turned on thousands of viewers because I tell everyone how obsessed I am with it.”

Read more:

Special Coverage: EW’s Olympics HQ

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