Apr 18, 2024

Learn from the Experts: How to Prepare for the 2024 Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Eventing Championships

By Kaleigh Collett - USEA Staff
USEA/Shelby Allen photo

If you’re a new team setting out to compete in the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Eventing Championships in just a couple of weeks, preparing for the “happiest horse trial” in the U.S. may seem a bit daunting. With five components to the Spirit Award contest that require creativity and cohesion between team members, there is a lot that goes into preparing and packing to leave for the event. Keep reading to hear from some stalwarts in the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program on how you can make the most out of your experience at this year’s Championships, which will be hosted at the Stable View Local Charities H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5.

University of South Carolina – Aiken

USEA/Shelby Allen photo

The USC Aiken Eventing Team is no stranger to the Intercollegiate Championship, fielding members at the event every year the program has hosted except the inaugural event in 2016. This year, the team will return as the defending champions after taking home the title in 2023, and they have a list of must-do preparations for success:

  • Start planning EARLY! Start talking about potential team members and plans as soon as the December before the Championship if possible.
  • Plan your decorations: it’s easier to plan and order stuff early, rather than making a last-minute Party City run.
  • Pick a color scheme and stay with it.
  • Organize! Have a whiteboard or a chalkboard with everyone’s ride times, so everyone knows where to go to cheer!
  • Bring two of everything! You will need it.
  • Again, for early planning, especially if you want specially monogrammed items.
  • Do it together!
  • Have fun!

“Make the most of the experience! The rest of our season is so serious, so as a team, we take this one show to go all out, put on the glitter, wear the tutu, and just go for it! Don’t do it just for the Spirit Award; go all out just for the sake of building relationships with your friends. This is the best time to build relationships with your fellow teammates. Have fun!”

University of Kentucky

USEA/Shelby Allen photo

Another defending champion, this time for the coveted Spirit Award, also wrote in to share their tips for acing your championship experience. The University of Kentucky are past champions of the competition as well, and they have perfected the essence of the intercollegiate spirit. Hear from UK Eventing Team’s current president, Kate McGown, on their pathway to championship glory:

“Each year before champs, UKE does a 'Spirit Day' dedicated to all things champs!" she said. "We bring the team out to a local park and take the afternoon to tie-dye t-shirts, make cheering posters, practice chants, and strategically prepare for Spirit Award contests. Anything from choreographing the team dance to holding races to determine the fastest relay competitors to planning stall decor, it is such a fun way to get everyone together before the big competition and really get in the champs mindset!

"The team went to the F.E.N.C.E. Horse Trials [Tryon, North Carolina] in early April, which we like to call our 'Mini Champs' because we really go wild with decorations and team spirit in preparation for champs!" she added. "F.E.N.C.E. gives us the opportunity to get out to an event before the event and get everyone even more excited. The Championship is such a fun event for the entire team, and this year, we will leave nothing to chance when it comes to preparing to defend our Spirit Award title!”

University of Georgia

Photo courtesy of UGA Eventing

“University of Georgia Eventing is so excited to be competing at USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship for another year in just a few short weeks at Stable View. Here’s what a few of our members have to say about their preparation for the big weekend!"

  • “I’m focusing on consistency at home, doing our two-day team clinic in Aiken, and running a final event in Ocala two weeks before Champs,” said Charlotte Merrill
  • “To prepare for Champs I’ve been getting out and competing as much as possible. So far this season, I’ve done four horse trials, and I will be doing the two-day team clinic in Aiken. As final prep, I will also be doing a schooling show two weeks out from champs.” said Jennifer Bright
  • “We’re working on staying relaxed and supple in lessons at home; we will be at the eventing team clinic and are running an event the weekend after” said Brooke Richards.

The USEA thanks these schools for providing their wisdom in the lead up to the inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League Championship, which will take place alongside this year’s Intercollegiate Championship at Stable View. If you have any questions about competing at this year’s event, please contact USEA Staff Liaison Kaleigh Collett 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 at universities and colleges registered as Affiliates with the USEA. Many events across the country offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges where collegiate eventers can compete individually or 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. The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship is a capstone event for the program, which is held annually in the spring. The 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship will be held at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5. Click here to learn more about the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, Horse & Country, Kerrits, Nunn Finer, Sidelines, U.S. Equestrian, WeRideTogether, and World Equestrian Brands for sponsoring the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

About the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL)

In August 2020, the USEA Board of Governors approved the creation of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) as an official program of the USEA. The mission of IEL is to unite junior riders who are in the 5th—12th grade and provide a supportive community through which students can continue to pursue their riding interests. A group of junior members in the 5th—12th grade who share a common bond, such as the same barn, school, Pony Club, or other connection, can register with the USEA as an IEL Affiliate. The USEA Board of Governors recently approved an inaugural IEL Championship to kick-off in 2024 at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, which will be held in conjunction with the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships on May 4-5, 2024. Click here to learn more about the Interscholastic Eventing League.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, Horse & Country, Kerrits, Nunn Finer, Sidelines, U.S. Equestrian, WeRideTogether, and World Equestrian Brands for sponsoring the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League.

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