Mar 04, 2020

From Humble Beginnings: The Transylvania Eventing Team

By Jackie Wich - Transylvania University
Abby Blackburn competing in the 2018 USEA Intercollegiate Championships. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

At the heart of the bluegrass state sits Transylvania University, one of the top 100 liberal art schools in America and home to Transylvania University’s Eventing Team. Head coach, Tanya Davis, works round the clock at her barn, Three Day Farm, to keep the team in top shape. Transylvania University, fondly known as “Transy,” was founded in 1780, making it the 19th oldest university in the country. The eventing team was founded in 2012 as a varsity sport at Transylvania. Since then, the program has grown and matured drastically. The team has racked up a number of wins along with its riders getting national recognition.

Transy’s eventing team currently consists of varsity and junior varsity teams, with all riders given the opportunity to compete regularly. The varsity team typically completes five events a year with two horse trials in the fall and three in the spring. Being that Transylvania is a Division III school, the eventing team is the school's only opportunity to compete alongside Division I schools such as the University of Kentucky. The riders have the opportunity to compete in a number of different states and ride at beautiful venues. In order to ride for the varsity team, the riders must take at least one lesson a week from Coach Davis. However, they can board their horse wherever they choose. Coach Davis’ facility, and home base for Transylvania’s Eventing team, is located in Midway, Kentucky, which is a 25-minute drive from campus.

Along with regular lessons and traveling for shows, the riders organize cross-country schoolings throughout the year, both locally and at River Glen Equestrian Park which is located in New Market, Tennessee. In the spring, the team participates in a volunteer day where they choose a non-profit equine facility to work and learn. Transy will also have a booth at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April to provide more information on the program and have face-to-face conversations with the coach and riders.

The Transylvania Eventing Team strives to provide the best experience for both horse and rider. The program proves to be very inclusive with options for riders to compete with the junior varsity or varsity team. Transylvania itself also offers an athletic scholarship to riders who are eligible. Entry fees and stabling along with gear for both horse and rider are also covered by the University for the intercollegiate events. And to top it all off, Transylvania University is located in what is commonly referred to as the “Horse Capital of the World.” Lexington has been known for its rich equine industry which provides the riders with limitless opportunities.

Since the team's humble beginning in 2012, the team has had massive success. 2019 graduate Abby Blackburn was the USEA Intercollegiate Novice Rider of the year in 2018 with her mount Dior. Blackburn also made history last spring when she was named Transylvania University’s Female Athlete of the Year. This was the first time in history where a university recognized an event rider for the award. Blackburn beat out other athletes in sports including volleyball, softball, and track. This past November, the team won River Glen Horse Trials with all four riders having a successful weekend. They beat out 13 other teams for the win, including other Division I and II schools. And to top off their wildly successful season, three riders were nationally recognized in the USEA Intercollegiate Novice Rider list for 2019. Blackburn, Maddie Cease, and Amanda Haw all placed within the top 10 on the prestigious list. Transy is proving to be a fierce competitor in the intercollegiate division of the sport.

Overall, Transy’s eventing team is looking forward to having another successful season in 2020. The team is also working to educate others about the sport of eventing, and is always looking to add more riders to the program.

If you are interested in gaining more information about Transylvania’s eventing program, located at the heart of the bluegrass state, please contact Coach Davis at [email protected].

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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