The Texas A&M Eventing Team is fired up to bring the spirit of Aggieland to the Third Annual Intercollegiate Championship. Founded in 2016, the team is a young addition to A&M; however, the team has grown significantly in the past two years with 33 active members. Last year, the team was ecstatic about winning the 2017 Spirit Award and having one of their two teams finish fifth.
This year, the team has added a social aspect to the team. They hold socials each month along side their monthly meetings. Last fall, certified life coach Mindy Wiper lead yoga and a teambuilding workshop with team members. Always looking for ways to improve their riding, this spring the team hosted their second annual clinic with clinician Carsten Meyer at their home facility MeadowCreek Park. “We also participated in a pacing clinic with Carsten to help our team members with finding the ‘correct pace’ for their horse and competition level,” said Kailtyn Harkin, social director.
The team recently implemented a new fundraising strategy called Rent-A-Groom where competitors showing in Area V can rent a team member as a groom for a weekend. “Our Rent-A-Groom fundraiser was a rewarding experience for both groom and rider,” said Grace Freeman, team member. “It let me gain experience as a groom while also spreading the word of intercollegiate eventing.”
In addition, the team has attended several Intercollegiate Challenges. At the 2017 October Pine Hill Intercollegiate Challenge, the Maroon and White teams took home first place and second place. They also attended MeadowCreek Park’s and Texas Rose’s Intercollegiate Challenges.
“Our riders have made great personal improvements this past year,” Harkin said. “All our riders have had challenges, but seeing how we’ve taken every bump in the road head on together as a team is definitely something to be proud of.”
The team will be sending seven riders and several grooms to the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Virginia with one team of undergraduates competing for the 2018 Intercollegiate Championship.
Emily Crews, treasurer and professional student studying Veterinarian Medicine, will be returning for another USEA Intercollegiate Championship. They have competed at Novice at the 2017 Holly Hill Horse Trials placing sixth, 2017 Texas Rose Horse Trials placing second, and 2018 Texas Rose Horse Trials. Crews hopes to give it her all and represent the university to the best of her ability.
Tessa Guerra, class of 2017, graduated with her degree in Animal Science and an Equine Certificate. She will be returning to the Championship for a second time. Guearra’s horse Walk In The Park (Bentley) was originally purchased as a hunter/equitation mount, but soon after they both tried their hand at eventing they haven’t looked back. They won their first event ever at Beginner Novice in October of 2016 then went on to compete at the 2017 USEA Intercollegiate Championship last year and placed fourth in the Open Beginner Novice division. This year, they placed second in their Novice debut at the 2017 Pine Hill Horse Trials. Their goal for the Championship is to finish on their dressage score. Guerra and Bentley are hoping to go to the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) this year, so they would like to have a good Novice ride at Virginia before tackling their first AEC.
President Jessi Hart and her horse Southern Pride (Marvin) have been together since 2013. They had their sights set on a move up to Training level, but an accident in 2015 led them to refocus. When Hart returned to riding, Marvin was the only horse she really wanted to work with. After a slow recovery, they made quite a comeback with several first places at dressage schooling shows, a fourth place finish at the 2017 Fall Pine Hill Horse Trials at Beginner Novice, second place in the Novice at a Pine Hill Schooling Show, and sixth at the 2018 Texas Rose Horse Trials at Beginner Novice. Their goal for the Championship is to come home clear with a positive show experience since she begins law school in the fall. “I would describe that as a supple dressage ride with a killer cross-country and a *fingers crossed* hunter-esque show jumping round,” Hart said.
Erin Posey, equipment manager, is pursuing a Ph.D. in Animal Science focused on vascular disease and obesity. Posey and her horse Answered Prayers (Carter) have shown at the 2017 USEA Pine Hill Horse Trials in Beginner Novice and the 2018 USEA Texas Rose Horse Trials. Posey’s goals for Championships are to come across the XC flags with a sound and happy horse, and to end on a number and not a letter. After working with Carter for the last year and a half to come back from his Kissing Spine diagnosis. Posey is so proud of how much he's given her, and how willing he is to give his best every single ride.
Anna Blozinski, secretary, class of 2018, graduated with her degree in Biochemistry and is attending graduate school at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Blozinski will be competing with her horse Astronomical Sign (Astro). They started eventing just two years ago. This year, they competed at the 2017 Pine Hill Horse Trials and the 2018 Texas Rose Horse Trials. Their goal for the Championship is to have fun before leaving for graduate school. “I know as a relatively green pair in eventing we are not expected to be first in our division,” Blozinski said. “But never tell an old dog he can’t learn new tricks."
Kaitlyn Harkin is studying Agricultural Communications and Journalism will be competing with her trainer Abbie Chappell’s horse Texas Renegade (Calvin). The two have only been working together for the past two months, but they are excited to show off their progress. Harkin previously showed in the hunter/jumpers, but she fell in love with cross-country and the ridability eventing requires. Since this is Harkin’s first time at the Championship, her goal is to go out there and have the best possible time with her team.
Veterinarian Pathology Ph.D. student Ev Voltura and her horse Beyond Infinity (Vinnie) will be making the trip to Virginia for the first time. They competed at Beginner Novice at the 2018 MeadowCreek Horse Trials and several schooling dressage shows and horse trials. In addition, Voltura has accumulated about a 100 volunteer hours at various events to support and improve her knowledge of the sport. Their goals for the Championship is to utilize the collective efforts of her team, self, and horse over this past year to the best of her ability.
The team will be hosting a tailgate on Friday May 25, 2018 for everyone competing at this year USEA Intercollegiate Championship at 5:00 p.m.
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.
If your farm has the space to set up a cross-country schooling course, it can be to your advantage to have cross-country jumps available for schooling purposes. Safety should be the number one priority when designing and building cross-country jumps, and an expert should be consulted whenever possible.
By this time I am sure that you have received the news that the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) has been canceled. I sincerely apologize for the difficulty this has caused everyone involved. I want to commend the USEA Board of Governors for making an extremely hard decision.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The Whidbey Island Horse Trials take place in Oak Harbor, Washington (Area VII) in early July of each year and offer Beginner Novice through Advanced/Intermediate horse trials. The Whidbey Island Horse Trials lost their venue in 2019 but are working on finalizing a new venue for 2021.