The third annual USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship at the Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) in Lexington, Virginia kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning with riders competing at nearly every level offered this weekend, from Beginner Novice all the way up through Intermediate and the CCI*/CIC2*. This year, a record 23 teams and 18 schools will compete in the Championship, more than double the number of rider and team entries from the inaugural year in 2016. The first year of the Championship it was the University of Georgia Red team who was crowned champion. Last year it was the Clemson Tigers that took home the blue ribbon. Who will take home the top prize this year?
Eighty-seven of the 444 total horse-and-rider combinations at the Virginia Horse Trials this weekend are competing in the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship. Teams have traveled from up and down the East Coast and as far West as Texas to compete for the title of 2018 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Team Champion.
Of those 87 combinations, 21 are competing at Beginner Novice, 26 at Novice, 24 at Training, eight at Preliminary, two at Intermediate, and six in the CCI*. To account for differences in level difficulty, each rider’s score is multiplied by a coefficient appropriate for their level and 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. The coefficient system that will be applied at the Championship is as follows:
Beginner Novice: 1.1
Seven riders are competing on Championship teams with two or more horses: Sallie Johnson, Lydia Kennedy, Aubrey Wagner, Emily Cardin, Sarah Pyne, Alex Peterson, Jackie LeMastus. Sarah Pyne is the only rider competing with three horses.
Auburn University is the only school with three riders each competing with two horses: Sallie Johnson, Lydia Kennedy, and Aubrey Wagner.
Four universities are making their Championship debut this year: James Madison University, University of Findlay, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and University of Florida.
There are four riders returning to the Championship this year who have previously been members of Champion Teams: Emily Cardin (2016 UGA Red Champion), Alex Peterson (2017 Clemson Tigers Champion), Sarah Pyne (2017 Clemson Tigers Champion), and Samantha Messamer (2017 Clemson Tigers Champion).
Clemson University and Auburn University have placed in the top three every year at the Intercollegiate Championship.
Clemson University is the defending Intercollegiate Team Champion and is the only school entered with three full teams: returning Champions Clemson Tigers, Clemson Orange, and Clemson Purple.
Five additional schools have two full teams entered: North Carolina State, Auburn University, University of Georgia, and University of South Carolina, Aiken, and Virginia Tech University.
All Intercollegiate Championship competitors will be stabled together in “College Town,” located in the East Complex of the Virginia Horse Center. Riders stabled in College Town will have a dedicated scoreboard to keep up with the college team standings and Championship announcements. Each team is encouraged to set up gazebos and tents in College Town and decorate their stabling area with their school colors, banners, and gear to show their school pride.
The Spirit Award sponsored by VHT is returning again this year to offer teams the chance to win back their entry fees. The team that displays the most school spirit and team camaraderie will receive refunds of their entry fees. The award was won by University of Georgia in 2016 and Texas A&M University in 2017.
All Intercollegiate Championship riders and their support teams are invited to a pizza dinner in the College Town in the East Complex on Friday, May 26 at 6:30 pm so the teams may get to know each other and hear important announcements about the competition.
All teams are encouraged to attend a special unmounted ceremony at the conclusion of the event on Sunday to recognize the top placed teams and Spirit Award winner and to distribute team ribbons and prizes. Ribbons will be awarded to the top six teams and prizes will be given to the top four teams.
Thanks to the generous USEA Intercollegiate Championship sponsors U.S Equestrian and World Equestrian Brands, there are some great prizes up for grabs this year. The Champion team will receive prizes such as Champion embroidered show coolers, silver plate trophies, embroidered saddle pads, Vespucci Veritas bridles, USEA apparel, and more! The Reserve Champion team will receive Reserve Champion plates, embroidered saddle pads, Equilibrium Tri-Zone brushing boots, and other prizes. The third-place team will receive embroidered saddle pads as well as Hamag Pad number holders and USEA gift certificates. The fourth-place team will receive embroidered saddle pads and USEA gift certificates.
Click on the image below to meet the teams of the 2018 Intercollegiate Eventing Championship!
4:30 p.m. – First Horse Inspection (CCI*)
8:00 a.m. – Dressage (CCI*)
9:00 a.m. – Dressage (Intermediate, Preliminary)
11:00 a.m. – Show Jumping (Intermediate, Preliminary)
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. Click here to learn more about the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
The Virginia Horse Trials has been a premier eventing destination for over 25 years. Situated on 600 acres, the Virginia Horse Center is a first-class venue. Brian and Penny Ross founded the Virginia Horse Trials in 1989 and organized the event through its 25th Anniversary in 2014. Andy Bowles took over the organization of the Virginia Horse Trials in 2015 and looks forward to maintaining it as a destination for east coast eventers in the years to come.
Like most professionals, I tend to do gridwork for most of the winter, before transitioning to coursework through the competition season. I find this exercise to be a good middle ground exercise as you have a little bit of a gymnastic combined with two easy bending exercises to set you up well for doing courses.
In 1993, Stephen Bradley had something to prove. It was the year after the Barcelona Olympic Games where Bradley had two unexpected refusals at the water complex. “It was very disappointing and a huge learning curve for me,” said Bradley. Little did he know, his path to redemption would result in winning the Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* (now CCI5*-L) – a victory so great that only two Americans have achieved: Bruce Davidson Sr. in 1974 and Bradley in 1993.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has approved additional modifications to the USEF Rules For Eventing in accordance with a resolution approved by the Board of Directors to address issues related to the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The full listing of rule modifications related to COVID-19 impacts can be viewed by clicking here.