Mar 11, 2020

A Busy Year for the Randolph-Macon College Eventing Team

By Morgyn Johnson - Randolph-Macon College
Photo courtesy of the Randolph-Macon Eventing Team.

The Randolph-Macon College Eventing program was established only six years ago by two individuals. Within a few years, it has grown to 16 members who all share the same passion for eventing and their horses. Randolph-Macon College has provided us with a 70-acre state-of-the-art facility where we can achieve our goals under the watchful eye of five-star rider Ashley Adams. The R-MC Eventing program has given us the opportunity to pursue our aspirations in the horse world while also achieving academic success. We pride ourselves on the team's cohesive and supportive attitudes as we work toward our individual goals as well as creating a successful and strong team. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of generous sponsors, donors, and all of those who have played a part in our fundraising efforts.

Randolph-Macon Eventing is based just outside Richmond in Ashland, Virginia. The team was fortunate to welcome Ashley Adams as the full-time coach two years ago as she transitioned from her time abroad. Morgyn Johnson (’22) remarked that “talking to Ashley was the icing on the cake” for making her decision to attend R-MC as she talked very confidently about the team and the plans for the future. Katherine Delaney (’22) stated that “Ashley has taught me to be a true competitor in both the horse world as well as in my academic and personal life. She has shown me what it really means to fight for something and that there is no ‘tapping out.’ You keep going until you make it through the finish.” Ashley’s unwavering work ethic and determination are inspirational and motivates team members to have her level of dedication and focus.

The college’s purchase of Coventry Farm (now known as Randolph-Macon Equestrian Center) has been instrumental to the growth and success of the team. The “uniqueness of having a barn local to campus and a single coach for the whole team” instantly attracted Kendall Benner (’22). Due to the generous support of the college, we were recently able to upgrade the footing in our jump ring, improving our ability to train and prepare. The farm is only five minutes from campus making it easy for the members to fit in a quick ride even when they are busy with schoolwork.

Throughout the past year, the Randolph-Macon Eventing team has had great success. This past fall, the team attended two intercollegiate challenges. At Tryon Riding and Hunt Club Horse Trials, the team placed second and fourth, along with the majority of the team members coming home with a ribbon. The team ended the season at the Virginia Horse Trials, placing third and fourth out of eighteen teams and once again bringing home top placings individually. Charlotte Stillfried (’21) and Morgyn Johnson (’22) topped the Modified and Training intercollegiate leaderboards for the year as well as Katherine Delaney (’22) placing fourth on the Preliminary intercollegiate leaderboard. Team members are competing up and down the east coast making an appearance as far south as Ocala, Florida and as far north as Woodstock, Vermont. Eventing is such a community sport and with Ashley’s many connections, we have been able to represent the R-MC Eventing Team in multiple areas, learning from all the new situations we have experienced.

Team leaders Sydney Guy (’21), Morgyn Johnson (’22), Katherine Delaney (’22), and Kendall Benner (’22) sat down last spring with Ashley and Dana Lesesne (director of R-MC Equestrian Programs) to make a plan for the upcoming year. Our main goal was to come up with fundraising opportunities for the team. In July, we hosted a weekend clinic with Ashley who donated all of her time and profits to the team. It was enormously successful with incoming freshmen attending as well as adults and teens from the surrounding areas. In September, the team hosted a trailer wash at the Randolph-Macon Equestrian Center. We power washed, scrubbed, and vacuumed 20 rigs with the help of the whole team, family members, and friends. The community at large loved it and we plan to do it again. In addition, the team has solicited both individual and company sponsorships. Through all of these efforts, we have raised over $10,000 this semester! These funds have allowed us to purchase a new dressage arena, custom stall guards and bridle rack covers, as well as a Pixio camera for capturing our lessons and cross-country schoolings.

The R-MC Eventing Team is still relatively new, but has huge aspirations and a growing number of members. We have big plans for the team in the upcoming year. This spring, we hope to represent Randolph-Macon at the USEA Intercollegiate Championships at the Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials. We plan to host combined tests at Randolph-Macon Equestrian Center with the new footing, dressage arena, and our amazing Jump 4 Joy jumps, making it a fantastic place to go and practice before a big event! Our team's biggest goal is to continue to be a model of success through the unwavering support of each other’s ambitions. Austin Skeens (’23) commented that the definition of teamwork to R-MC Eventing “is more so two words than one – it means working hard together for each other.” The team lives by the motto that “you can only be as strong as your teammate’s last ride.” R-MC Eventing embodies teamwork and holds themselves to a standard of excellence which will always be our top priority as we work to achieve our goals.

We have so many exciting plans for R-MC Eventing so make sure to keep up with all of our news and updates by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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 Claire Kelley at [email protected] to be featured.

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