Located in the heart of downtown Lexington, Kentucky is Transylvania University, a small liberal arts school that has an eventing team unlike any other. The support behind the eventing team comes from the University itself as it offers an ‘eventing scholarship’. This is the only known eventing scholarship offered at any university/college in the United States. Tanya Davis, the team head coach, explained, “We give scholarships of $1,000 per year to the early applicants that want to ride on our team. This scholarship has been in place for five years now. The riders are able to use the money for anything they need.”
Transylvania University, fondly known as ‘Transy’ was founded in 1780, making it one of the oldest universities in the country. The eventing team was founded many years later in 2012 as a varsity sport, and three years later, in 2015, the eventing scholarship was first offered. As the team grew and evolved, it was broken into two separate teams. Davis said, “We have a Varsity team and a Junior Varsity team. Our Varsity riders are the ones competing at USEA competitions and our Junior Varsity is everyone else. Some strive to be eventing riders, some are riding for the love of the horse and not competition.”
Six current Varsity team members have benefitted from this scholarship including the three Freshman students: Liz Howell, Katrina Kottra, and Aubrey Earley; Sophomore student Jackie Wich; Junior student Maddie Cease; and Senior student Nathalie Ouellett.
All six of these students are from out of state and the furthest away from home is Wich, who traveled from her hometown of Frenchtown, Montana to ride on the Transylvania University Eventing Team. Wich shared, “Transy’s Varsity eventing team was the reason I decided to pack up my life in Montana and move across the country to Lexington, Kentucky. Transylvania University, a private liberal arts school in the heart of Lexington, is not only known for its academic excellence but for being one of the only universities in the United States to offer three-day eventing as both a Varsity and Junior Varsity sport. Transy prides itself in offering opportunities for all levels of experience for riders.”
“The application process is quite simple,” described Wich of the scholarship. “In order to qualify for the scholarship, you must have completed two USEA recognized events at any level. Within those who events, you must score under a 45 in dressage, [jump] clear on cross-country, and [have] no more than two rails in show jumping.” Wich qualified for the scholarship when she finished on her dressage score to place second in the Open Novice at Equestrians Institute in 2018 with her longtime partner, Master Miller, a 10-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse gelding. A couple of weeks later, the pair won the Area VII Novice Championships at the Aspen Farms Horse Trials.
While attending Transylvania University, Wich and Master Miller have found similar success. The pair successfully moved up to the Training level in 2019 and their last completion they finished second in the Senior Training Rider division at the Champagne Run Horse Trials in July 2020. “Transy has allowed me to pursue a higher education while allowing me to continue the sport I love,” said Wich.
Wich continued, “I have been riding and competing event horses for the past 14 years. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to continue my passion for horses and competing. As most riders know, trying to balance school, finances, and taking care of a horse can be challenging. With the help of Transy, I can happily say I have been able to successfully balance all aspects of my life. I believe this is largely due to the measures the university takes to ensure the students succeed both inside and outside the classroom. Not only does Transy offer eventing as a Varsity and Junior Varsity sport, but they also give out yearly scholarships to eligible riders to wear their crimson colors and ride on the team.”
For more information about the Transylvania University eventing program, contact team representative and head coach Tanya Davis at [email protected].
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.
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.