The Auburn University Eventing Team has developed into a force to be reckoned with over the past couple of years, and they are full steam ahead in their preparations for the 2018 USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Founded in 2013 as one of the first teams to be recognized with the USEA, the team has grown steadily and has quickly made a name for itself at Intercollegiate Team Challenges in Area III - notably winning both the 2017 March Poplar Place Team Challenge and the 2017 October Chattahoochee Hills Team Challenge. In addition, Auburn University finished in third place at the inaugural USEA Intercollegiate Championship in 2016, and was the only school with two teams that finished in the top 10 at the Championship in 2017. While members are encouraged to train with their own individual coaches throughout the year, team clinics are held at least once per semester with upper level riders to give team members a chance to further their education. Auburn will be returning to Virginia this year with two full teams competing in the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Meet the members that will be traveling up the East Coast to represent Auburn University at the end of May!
Lydia Kennedy and Double Dare at the 2018 Red Hills International Horse Trials. Patricia Dileo Photo.
Lydia Kennedy is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and is a graduate student at Auburn getting her Masters in Geotechnical Engineering. Lydia is a student of Werner Geven and will be competing her horses Double Dare and Subtle Dream Unveiled at the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Lydia has represented Auburn in the USEA Intercollegiate Championship every year since the inaugural USEA Intercollegiate Championship in 2016 and is excited to be returning again this year. Double Dare (Silver Charm x Do It) is Lydia’s upper level horse, and is a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding that she originally bought from Sally Cousins. The pair represented Area III at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships in 2016 as part of the two-star team. They will be competing at the Preliminary level at Virginia, and Lydia hopes to finish on her dressage score. Her short term goal with "Charm" is to go to the Ocala Jockey Club CCI2* in the fall. Lydia will also be competing her longtime partner Subtle Dream Unveiled at the Novice level at Virginia. Lydia did her first Preliminary level event on “Dreamer” several years ago and since then Dreamer has been teaching other riders the ropes - including Lydia’s mother, Carrie, who rode Dreamer in the “Seasoned and Sexy” Challenge at Poplar Place a few months ago.
Sallie Johnson and Things to Ponder. Forever Photography by Michelle Allen Photo.
Sallie Johnson is from Montgomery, Alabama and is a junior majoring in Business Administration. Sallie trains with Julie Richards in Newnan, Georgia. She will be competing two horses at the USEA Intercollegiate Championship - Things to Ponder (Due Date x The Things You Do) and Looking Rosey (Ludwig H x Rose’s Double). “Ponder” is a 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Elaine Carroll. Sallie has been riding Ponder since he was a 3-year-old and he recently made the move up to Training level. Sallie’s goal for Virginia with Ponder is to finish on their dressage score and to give him a good confidence building round on cross-country. Sallie hopes to move him up to the Preliminary level in 2019 and to continue producing him up the levels. Ponder’s connections are much happier with his career as an event horse - he raced four times and never beat a single horse on the track! Sallie’s other ride for Virginia, Looking Rosey, is a 13-year-old KWPN mare owned by Skylar Rowan. Sallie has been leasing “Asali” since December. They will be contesting their first CCI* at Virginia. Sallie and Asali have had several top placings over the spring season, including third place at their first Preliminary together at Stable View, fourth place at Red Hills, and second place at Chattahoochee Hills in April. On Asali, Sallie hopes to have a competitive dressage score, go clear on cross-country, and go clear in show jumping. Sallie’s long term goal is to one day compete at the four-star level.
Meredith Kramer and Kentucky Gentleman. Photo courtesy of Auburn Eventing.
Meredith Kramer is a junior majoring in Agricultural Communication and Horticulture. She is from Lexington, Kentucky and trains with Stephanie Counts and Alex Green. Meredith will be competing her 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Kentucky Gentleman (Doneraile Court x Northern Voyager) in the Novice division at the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Meredith’s goal for Virginia is to have a fun, confidence-building weekend. Meredith and “Chance” have been a partnership for six years! Her short term goal is to work back up to the Preliminary level in the fall, and long term she hopes to continue riding after graduation.
Cari Budny and Solo. Photo courtesy of Auburn Eventing.
Cari Budny is a sophomore from Montgomery, Alabama and is majoring in Animal Science/Pre-Vet. She trains with Susan Wainwright of Foxwood Farms. Cari will be competing her 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Solo (Maches Hot Topic x Mae Be Perfect) at the Preliminary level at the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Cari and Solo had a great start to the season at Pine Top in February, finishing third in the Preliminary/Training division. Cari’s goal for Virginia is to score in the low 30s in dressage. Cari says that an interesting fact about her and Solo is that she can successfully school cross-country even though he bucks in between every fence. Solo is a miracle case as he survived both a major trailer accident and a major pasture accident and is perfectly healthy and able to compete at the upper levels! When Solo was kicked in the head by another horse, he sustained major damage to one of his eyes and no veterinarians would operate on it because they didn’t think it was fixable. Cari’s dad, who is a plastic surgeon, worked with veterinarians at Auburn University to perform surgery that helped Solo gain his sight back! Dr. Budny placed expanders under Solo’s eye, and pumped just enough each day to not shatter the orbit until it was back in position. Now the pair competes successfully at the Preliminary level with hopes of moving up to the Intermediate level in the future, and Solo’s eye gives him no trouble!
Aubrey Wagner and Fernhill Valarchin. Liz Crawley Photography Photo.
Aubrey Wagner is a junior from Annapolis, Maryland majoring in Public Relations. She will be competing her two horses Fernhill Valarchin (Rebel Z x Reichsgraf) and Clooney MS (Clinton II x Stutbuch) in the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Aubrey trains with Julie Richards and keeps her horses at Julie’s farm in Newnan, Georgia. Aubrey and “Val”, a 9-year-old Selle Francais, will be competing at the Intermediate level at Virginia, and Aubrey hopes to only add time on cross-country to their dressage score. The pair has had a very successful spring season at the Preliminary and one-star levels, most recently finishing third in the CIC* at Chattahoochee Hills in April. Aubrey and her other mount, Clooney MS, will be contesting their first CCI* as a pair. Clooney MS is a 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, and the pair has had a promising start to their career together. They won the Preliminary at Chattahoochee Hills last October and finished third at Red Hills in March. Aubrey’s short term goal for is to take Val and Clooney CCI2* at the Ocala Jockey Club in the fall, and hopes to compete them at the three-star level when she graduates. Aubrey is very excited to return to Virginia as she used to compete there often in high school and it was always one of her favorite events.
Grace Butler and HHF Chehon. Photo courtesy of Auburn Eventing.
Grace Butler is a freshman from Franklin, Tennessee and is majoring in Animal Science/Pre-Vet. Grace trains with Lizzie Walters and will be competing her 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred HHF Chehon (Marquetry x Heart Beat) at the Training level at the USEA Intercollegiate Championship. As a freshman, Grace has been focusing a lot on getting used to college and the harder course load, but she loves having her horse with her at school and competing when she can. Grace and Chehon finished sixth in the Open Training division at the Poplar Place Farm March Horse Trials! Grace says she loves how being a part of the Auburn Eventing Team gives her a group of people who share the same passion. Interestingly, Grace also foxhunts with the Cedar Knob Hounds in Cornersville, Tennessee when she goes home for breaks and loves the benefits that foxhunting has for her event horse!
About the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program
The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program was established in 2014 to provide a framework within which eventing teams and individual competitors could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. The USEA offers a discount of $25 on annual USEA memberships for current students of universities and colleges registered as Affiliates with the USEA and many events across the country now offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges throughout the year, where collegiate eventers can compete individually as well as on teams with their fellow students.
In Intercollegiate Team Challenges, each rider’s score is multiplied by a coefficient appropriate for their level to account for differences in level difficulty and then the individual scores are added together to determine the team score. Only the best three individual scores will count towards the team score, so teams of four will have one “drop” score. Click here to learn more about the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
The USEA wants to feature your collegiate eventing team in our Intercollegiate Eventing Spotlight series! Please send your story and photos to Jessica Duffy to be featured.