Today was taken over by the Yellow Jackets as Randolph-Macon College came out in full force at the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Va. From decorated golf carts and team mascots to top scores, the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets Team of four is holding the top spot going into the final day of the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships.
Based in Ashland, Va., Randolph-Macon College is no stranger to competing at Championships. In 2017, Randolph-Macon finished eleventh on a scramble team, in 2018 Randolph-Macon finished tenth. They were absent at the 2019 Championships, but, this is their year to shine as they have two teams and strong scores going into tomorrow.
The leading team out of 27 other teams consists of Morgyn Johnson on Peter Parker GS in the CCI1*-L, Austin Skeens on What Gives also in the CCI1*-L, Holly Shade on Hang on Caitlyn in the Modified, and Sydney Guy on Renegade in the Beginner Novice.
“Being a part of Randolph-Macon is one of the best experiences of my life,” said Morgyn Johnson who holds the best score on the leading team. “The team is so great, everyone is so supportive of each other and, as you can tell with [the opening ceremony} last night, we definitely don’t lack in team spirit. It’s really great - whether you have a good day or bad day - there is always someone there to boost you up.”
Johnson is currently sitting second in the CCI1*-L on a score of 30.2 with her own Peter Parker GS. “He was really great, he is such an honest horse, and such a superstar. He took every question in stride,” said after her double-clear cross-country ride. “I’ve only had him for a little over a year. He’s really taken everything in stride. He’s improved so much in the last year, so I’m really happy with him.”
The rising senior is majoring in business management with a minor in communications and was named the USEA Intercollegiate Training Rider of the Year in 2019. Mastering the balancing act between horses and school, Johnson explained how she does it all. “We have a coach for our team, Ashley Adams, she’s fantastic. She helps me If I don’t have time [to ride him] just because of classes or finals, she will definitely help me out in that way, or even some of my team members [will] help me out,” said Johnson. Basically, the biggest thing is getting a schedule and making sure you stick to it. It’s definitely possible to ride and be in college, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
Similar to the scenes from last night’s opening ceremony, the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets and the University of Kentucky Wildcats are fighting for the top spot. The Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets Team is on a team score of 87.79 but the University of Kentucky Wildcats Team is close behind on a score of 90.41 going into tomorrow.
The University of Kentucky who has come very close to winning the Championship title has brought their A-game with 8 full teams. The Wildcats Team of four consists of Cosby Green on McCreary in the Training Horse division, Ivie Cullen-Dean on Redfield Lorimer in the Open Beginner Novice Horse division, Caroline Dannemiller on Fernhill Dreaming in the Modified B division, and Abbey O’Day on Casper 385 in the Novice Rider B division.
The teammates, Cullen-Dean and Green, both have multiple horses entered in Championships, and both are leading their respective divisions with their University of Kentucky Wildcats team horses. Green, who has two horses in the Championship, is second in the CCI3*-L with Copper Beach and her Wildcats team horse, McCreary is leading the Training Horse A division with a score of 30.0 going into tomorrow.
Cullen-Dean has two horses taking the overnight lead in two divisions at the Virginia Horse Trials. Cullen-Dean’s Wildcats Team horse, Redfield Lorimer is leading the Open Beginner Novice Horse division on a score of 31.4, and her University of Kentucky Cats Team horse, Fernhill Full Throttle is leading the Open Training division on a score of 31.0.
On every ride, Cullen-Dean's teammates were there cheering her on. “Having everybody come and cheer for you at every single ride is kind of something you never really think about in riding. You always have a support group but having your friends and also your teammates with you on your side is one of the best feelings possible.” Cullen-Dean continued, “it’s just the best atmosphere. Walking up and down the aisle you’re always saying good luck and have fun or they’re saying it back to you.”
The two-time reigning champions, Auburn University has it’s eyes on a third win as Team Orange sits on a team score of 96.035. The team of four consists of Kaitlyn Dendy on Highland Reign in the Open Beginner Novice Rider division, Barbara Brogan on Lyell also in the Open Beginner Novice Rider division, Suzanne Hillhouse on FGF Bob’n For Silver in the Novice Rider A division, and Jennifer Mullholland on Casanova in the Training Rider A division.
So, will it be the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets Team who takes home the 2021 Championship title, or the UK Wildcats, or the defending champions Auburn University? With another full day left to go, the title is up for grabs come tomorrow afternoon.
The scramble team of the graduate division which is scored separately has a team score of 112.17. The team of three consists of Amelia Bayer on Blood, Sweat, & Beers representing James Madison University in the Novice, Macy Clark on Mandolin R representing the University of Kentucky in the Modified, and Mackenzie Kranson on Won for Luck representing Virginia Tech in Beginner Novice.
The awards ceremony for both divisions will be unmounted and will take place tomorrow afternoon after the last ride.
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. Many events across the country now offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges 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 Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
The USEA would like to thank Saratoga Horseworks, Bates Saddles, FITS, World Equestrian Brands,EQuine AMerica Magazine, Revitavet, Kerrits, R&J Equine Unlimited, LLC, and US Equestrian for sponsoring the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
Plenty of event riders have chosen to cross oceans and base themselves thousands of miles away from “home” in pursuit of their career dreams - look at the likes of New Zealanders Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, and now Tim and Jonelle Price, while Andrew Hoy, Clayton Fredericks and of course Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton have set sail from Australian shores. Not many American riders do it, though, probably because the sport is big enough and competitive enough in the U.S. not to make it necessary.
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.
Strides for Equality Equestrians and the United States Eventing Association Foundation are proud to announce the first recipient of the Ever So Sweet Scholarship. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind, provides a fully-funded opportunity for riders from diverse backgrounds to train with upper-level professionals. Helen Casteel of Maryland is the first recipient of the bi-annual scholarship.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when the federal order was read in Galveston, Texas stating that all enslaved people in Texas were free. This federal order was critical because it represented the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederate States. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed all people enslaved in the Confederacy almost two and a half years earlier, Union enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent, especially in Texas. Slavery would continue in two states that had remained in the Union— Kentucky and Delaware — until the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865.