Transylvania University was founded in 1780, the first college West of the Allegheny mountains and the 19th oldest in the nation. The Eventing team was founded at the University as a varsity sport in the Fall of 2012. Transylvania University, lovingly referred to as simply “Transy”, is a small private liberal arts college in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. The school is situated in downtown Lexington, minutes from the Kentucky Horse Park and a 25-30 minute drive to Three Day Farm, the home base for Transy’s eventing team in the rolling blue hills of Midway, Kentucky.
The varsity eventing team is composed of riders competing at levels ranging from Beginner Novice to Preliminary. In order to represent Transy in competition, horse and rider must have competed safely at their level at a minimum of two USEA recognized events. This past year, the team was composed of about 12 riders with up to eight riders and two teams competing for the school at several competitions. The school pays for the team members’ entry and stabling fees and riding gear at several shows per year where the team competes in Intercollegiate Challenges. Members of the team also have access to a personal trainer on campus in the University’s athletic center. Though not equestrians themselves, the athletic department has worked with the team to put together a program based upon sometimes hilarious descriptions of the fitness level and muscle groups necessary for eventing!
Reflective of the school’s odd name and rich history, the University mascot is a bat, which Transy eventers now stencil on their horse’s hindquarters for the cross-country phase. This past fall, the team competed at the River Glen Horse Trials, Poplar Place Farm Horse Trials, and Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials, and for the spring season will go to the Winona Horse Trials and the Intercollegiate Championship at the Virginia Horse Trials. The team had wins at Chatt Hills, River Glen, and Poplar! Next year, the University plans to add the local Jumpstart Horse Trials, along with an alumni division at the River Glen Horse Trials to the competition schedule. Transy eventers frequently make use of local cross-country schooling and non-collegiate shows at the Kentucky Horse Park as well.
Transy eventers are members of a team in addition to individual athletes. They have one another’s support, moral and otherwise, at the barn, the dorms, and especially when traveling with horses for schooling or competitions. In the fall, the team travels to River Glen Equestrian Center in Tennessee to school cross-country and camp for a weekend; in the spring, they do a volunteer day of service as a team, along with all other varsity teams at Transy. For the past two years, the service day has been spent at the Kentucky Equine Humane Society in nearby Nicholasville, Kentucky.
“I go from class, to a meeting with a professor, to the barn and then back for school functions and I love it. Especially wearing breeches to class,” said team member Abby Blackburn. “Thanks to financial aid and scholarships, Transy was my cheapest option both in and out of State. That, their pre-law rankings, and learning of the opportunity to event on a team in college sealed the deal for me,” Chloe Hunt volunteered.
While Transy does not offer an Equine Studies major, the University is prestigious and academically rigorous, preparing students for whatever they wish to pursue and offers easy access and some partnership programs with its neighbor, the University of Kentucky. Despite offering a private education and small class sizes, Transy is generous with financial aid and scholarships; this has made eventing in college affordable for team members. Team members, while dedicated, do not limit their range of interests to Eventing and come from all over the country. Major/minors of current team members include Graphic Design, Business, Philosophy, Pre-pharmaceutical/Biochemistry, Language, Art, and Environmental Studies. Many are in student organizations or clubs on campus.
The Transylvania University Eventing team will have a booth at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4* at the Kentucky Horse Park this April 26-29, 2018, booth 211, so stop by and say hi! Or, just look for bat-stenciled butts at the next competition.
All photos courtesy of the Transylvania University Eventing Team.
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.
Five-star eventer Kim Severson taught a show jumping clinic in January at Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, Virginia where she instructed riders on the importance of forward riding for successful jumping. In this exercise, which Severson progressively adds additional pieces to, riders are instructed to focus on the quality of their canter.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
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.