The Mississippi State Eventing team was founded with numerous goals in mind. Each team member joined with personal goals and the excitement of contributing toward a team of riders representing Mississippi State at intercollegiate challenges. A separate and arguably more important goal is to grow awareness of eventing at the grassroots level in Mississippi.
The team was started late in the 2014 season. Founded by a small group of likeminded riders and friends, our newly formed team aimed towards the Chattahoochee Hills Intercollegiate Challenge in spring of 2015.
Because Mississippi lacks a strong eventing community, it is of upmost importance to make the public aware of the sport. It is unlikely that the general population of Mississippi is aware that eventing is a horse sport, despite having a large percentage of equestrians. Many riders may not know that eventing is a possibility in Mississippi, or that collegiate eventing exists and is rapidly growing. MS State Eventing reached out to the community in November of 2015, hosting an open house at Redbud Farm. The entire purpose of inviting the public to our training facility was to explain the sport and how exciting it is to become involved in eventing. The team hopes to generate interest in the sport, as well as communicate to other equestrians that there is an outlet for eventing as an undergraduate at Mississippi State.
Juliana Santiago competing at River Glen.
The Mississippi State Eventing team had an exciting first season of intercollegiate competition. At the team’s first collegiate challenge, MS State placed fourth overall at Chattahoochee Hills in April 2015. Rider Alli George placed first in the individual intercollegiate division, competing at the Novice level on her horse Belle of the Ball. Team members continued to compete individually throughout the summer and early fall, aiming for the next collegiate challenge. Alli George continued her streak, moved up to Training level and placed second at both Poplar in May and River Glen in early August. In the meantime, Megill Imes moved her horse Best Attack up to Training, and Juliana Santiago placed fourth in Novice at the Chattahoochee Hills Summer Series in June. Juliana had a successful move up at River Glen in August, placing 7th with her first Training run.
Sarah Buffington and Carpenter Jack at Three Lakes H.T.
MS State Eventing geared up to head to the October Virginia CCI1*, CCI2*, and HT for their second intercollegiate challenge. New competing members Sarah Buffington, Drew Zeidwig, Alexis Tentler, and Caroline Pettus experienced their first collegiate challenge event, all riding in the Beginner Novice division. Juliana Santiago placed second in a competitive Training division, and Sarah Buffington took home sixth in Beginner Novice with horse Carpenter Jack. MS State placed second among the participating universities. Since then, riders Alli George and Sarah Buffington have continued to successfully move up the levels. Alli George completed her first Preliminary at River Glen last fall and Sarah Buffington traveled to Florida this spring to complete her second Novice at Three Lakes.
Alli George and Belle of the Ball competing at Poplar Place Farm.
Throughout the 2015 competition season, MS State Eventing members turned to many instructors in order to develop further as riders. Megill Imes and Alli George honed their skills at the Buck Davidson clinic at Chattahoochee Hills last summer. The team hosted a two-day clinic at Redbud Farm with Bobby Costello in October. It was a fantastic opportunity to have Mr. Costello’s input and training exercises before the collegiate challenge at Virginia. MS State Eventing is thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with such accomplished riders in our first competitive season.
Intercollegiate eventing gives the opportunity for riders to compete towards a common goal regardless of level. The MS State team is a closely knit group of undergraduates that share the motivation to represent their university. As students, our team members must balance the rigors of academics and the time and energy that must be put into the sport. Two of our riders completed their degree in December, and two more will graduate in May. Team members Juliana Santiago, Alli George, and Alexis Tentler will go on to the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016.
The Mississippi State Eventing Team is thrilled to have a successful first year; as students and riders, we look forward to what 2016 has to offer.