Mar 18, 2020

Celebrating Over 10 Years of Intercollegiate Eventing at UC Davis

By Maria Rojas - University of California, Davis
The 2019-2020 UC Davis Eventing Team. Photo courtesy of the UC Davis Eventing Team.

This past year the event team at the University of California (UC), Davis celebrated its 10th year as a three-day eventing team!

UC Davis has supported equestrian teams since the 1980s, but as the program has grown the equestrian team has split into five distinct teams focusing on different disciplines. In 2009, presidents Dinah Davison and Sonali Rathod developed the West Coast Collegiate Eventing League (WCCEL), officially establishing an independent event team at UC Davis. The goal of this program was to make eventing accessible for college riders, providing community, friendship, and opportunities to grow as riders. This program merged with the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program in 2014 to create the program we know today. In this time we have seen massive growth in Area VI and in intercollegiate eventing all across the country.

While UC Davis is known worldwide for the strength of the animal science and veterinary programs, the team is composed of students studying many different subjects including Animal Science, Chemistry, Environmental Toxicology, Psychology, Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology, and Political Science to name a few. The team is committed to not only improving as athletes but also as students. Team members frequently take classes together and study together.

Freshman Belle John riding in a recent clinic with Dom Schramm. Photo courtesy of Christina Perea.

Over the past decade, the team has been lucky to host clinics with top riders Brian Sabo, James Alliston, Bec Braitling, and most recently Lauren Billys and Dom Schramm. Hosting clinicians has given team members a chance to ride with a wide variety of trainers and teaching styles and has promoted learning in and out of the saddle.

The UC Davis team has grown immensely and has seen riders compete at every level from Intro through CCI2*. Several team alums have gone on to become veterinarians, lawyers, pharmacists, trainers, dairy managers, and more, all while continuing in their equestrian pursuits. Many alumni continue returning to UC Davis to attend clinics with the team. Amelia Kerautret (Class of 2019) and Haley Abbett (Class of 2018) both rode in our recent clinic with Dom Schramm. The friendships created during one’s time at Davis goes far beyond graduation and is one of the best parts of being a member of the team.

Riley Von Richter, Maria Rojas, and Lulu Sieling after a cross-country lesson with Lauren Billys. Photo courtesy of the UC Davis Eventing Team.

A unique aspect of the event team at UC Davis is that it is 100 percent student-run. Current team president Olivia (Lulu) Sieling stated that, “The team has given me the opportunity to learn about balancing my time and managing a team with responsibilities such as sponsors, finances, social media, travel, shows, and much more. I can see myself using these skills later in life.” As one of the five equestrian teams at UC Davis, many members including Sophomore Hailey Tyra and Junior Christina Perea credit the eventing team in drawing them to UC Davis.

Last spring the event team sent eight riders to compete at Woodside with riders competing from Intro through Preliminary. Intro riders Lexi James and Sophia Grant-Counard both completed their first-ever event at Woodside, we cant wait to see them continue to grow and show with us! One unique aspect of our team is our built-in support system. You can often see groups of people clad in blue and gold running between rings to make sure we can catch every ride, not only of current riders but of past riders as well.

Lulu Sieling, Amelia Kerautret, and Hailey Tyra at the Fresno County Horse Park. Photo courtesy of the UC Davis Eventing Team.

The event team at Davis is proud to have such a varied group of riders who truly represent the spirit of eventing. Not only do we have a great diversity in riders’ experience, but we also have a quiet varied set of equine athletes with everything from a 14hh Arab pony, to OTTBs fresh off the track, to an 18hh warmblood cross and just about everything in between. While finding team equipment that fits such a wide array of athletes is difficult we have been lucky enough to be supported by many companies such as Mary’s Botanicals, Equiprisim, Spot on Braiding Wax, LMF Horse Feeds, California Custom Bonnets, Kastel Denmark, Deco Pony, and many more.

This past fall the team had four riders compete at Fresno at Beginner Novice through Training level and one competed at Galway Downs at the CCI2* level. Recently the team has focused on expanding the intercollegiate program in the region in the hopes that there will be a West Coast Intercollegiate Championship. The team is incredibly fired up to see Cal Poly SLO, Oregon State, and the University of Colorado add event teams to their rosters and host their own intercollegiate challenges. Over the past three years, UC Davis has hosted five intercollegiate team challenges at multiple venues. Vice President, Maria Rojas has spent the past year working with John Marshall of Fresno County Horse Park to set up the pilot for West Coast Eventing Championships set for April 17-19, 2020 at Fresno County Horse Park. We are beyond excited for this event!

Hailey Tyra, Annika Bram, Sophia Grant Counard, Holly Fox, Christina Perea, Maria Rojas, and Amelia Kerautret. Photo courtesy of the UC Davis Eventing Team.

We can’t wait for the upcoming season of competition and growth!

If you’re interested in riding with UC Davis, email us at [email protected] for more information!

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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This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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