On Sunday, May 19 in Lexington, Kentucky, Transylvania University hosted their annual all-sport athletic banquet with one team missing. The eventing team was on their way home from the 2019 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship at Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials in Fairburn, Georgia. Knowing that senior and team captain Abby Blackburn was a finalist for the school’s Female Athlete of the Year award, she and Transylvania’s eventing coach Tanya Davis anxiously watched a live stream of the banquet from the road.
“They announced that I had won, and we couldn’t believe it,” said Blackburn, “I was up against soccer players, basketball players, golfers, all the traditional school sports, and they chose an event rider. How cool is that?”
The Transylvania eventing program was formed in 2012 and Blackburn has been a member since the fall of 2015. In that time, the team has gone from four riders to 12.
“I completed my first recognized horse trial the summer before my freshman year,” Blackburn remembered. “It was something I always wanted so badly, but it just wasn’t realistic for me until I joined the school team. Suddenly, I was traveling all over the southeast competing at venues I’d never thought I’d make it to. It really has been a dream, and without the support of the school and Coach Davis I don’t think it ever could’ve happened.”
Blackburn had multiple wins at the Beginner Novice and Novice level last year and was named the 2018 USEA Novice Intercollegiate Rider of the Year.
“Our school is NCAA Division III, so the eventing program is the only chance we get to go up against the big D1 schools,” Blackburn reported, “I think that’s a great thing for the school, and knowing the other coaches respect our sport enough to vote me Athlete of the Year is such a big deal for the program. You just don’t see that at other Universities.”
Blackburn is sad to be graduating and leaving the team, but she is far from done with eventing. She plans to continue working in the horse industry after graduation and hopes to be a professional rider and trainer in the future.
Female Athlete of the Year is a huge honor to be given to anyone in any sport. However, as far as we know, this is the first time in history that a University has given this award to an event rider. For information about the Transylvania University eventing program, contact team coach Tanya Davis at [email protected].
US Equestrian has announced the nomination of the following athlete-and-horse combinations to the U.S. Eventing Team, as well as the Reserves for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. Three direct reserve horses have also been named. A direct reserve horse would be an automatic replacement should the original horse on which an athlete was named need to be substituted.
A combination that can be found on almost every cross-country course starting at the Novice level is the coffin combination. As the levels go up, so does the difficulty of the coffin question. The distances become shorter, coffins become bigger, and the terrain becomes steeper - even the name itself sounds intimidating.
The dressage test is the first of the three phases in eventing. Intended to demonstrate "the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse," the dressage test contains a prescribed list of movements to be carried out in front of a judge, or judges, and which is then given a penalty score that horse and rider carry through to the end of the competition.
On Sunday, June 16, Molly Sullivan and Kate Swain were named the two winners of the Charles Owen Technical Merit award for Area IX at Golden Spike Horse Trials.