Auburn University, a school that has been fighting for the top spot every year since the start, finally earned their spot on the highest podium at the 2018 USEA Intercollegiate Championship. Lydia Kennedy on Subtle Dream Unveiled, Sallie Johnson on Looking Rosey, Aubrey Wagner on Clooney MS, and Meredith Kramer on Kentucky Gentleman made up the winning team at the 2018 USEA Intercollegiate Championship that took place on May 24-27, 2018 at the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Virginia. Fast forward six months later and the team is still finding success in both school and eventing.
Studying abroad in the Czech Republic, doing research for a master’s degree, and riding full time are what filled the summer days for Sallie Johnson, Lydia Kennedy, Aubrey Wagner, and Meredith Kramer. Finding time for both horses and school is “not for everyone” emphasized Wagner, as she balances her hour-long commute to the barn five days a week and her commitments as a full-time student.
Running on little sleep and numerous cups of coffee, the balance between horse and student life might be difficult but the four members of the Auburn Orange team seem to have mastered the art. “After the Championship, I left to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic for six weeks. I had an internship with an Airbnb company and it was an incredible experience. Both of my horses had some well-deserved time off while I was gone but I was happy to get back to work preparing them for the fall season,” shared Johnson.
Johnson’s hard work paid off as she finished third and was the recipient of the Born in America award, American Thoroughbred award, and TIP award at the 2018 YEH East Coast Championships with her 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Things To Ponder. Johnson’s Auburn Orange Team horse, Looking Rosey, a Thoroughbred mare owned by Cynthia and Mark Rowan, has completed a CIC* and finished third in her last two Preliminary outings with Johnson in the irons.
“As far as my future plans in eventing, I am still deciding what I plan to do after college. I graduate this May, so I'm going to see how the spring season goes with my horses and then plan from there. I would love to figure out a way to focus on riding for a few years and see where that can take me,” said Johnson.
Coming off of a competitive finish at the Ocala Jockey Club CCI* are Lydia Kennedy on her 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Double Dare. “Since the Championship, I have been working with my upper level horse, Double Dare (Charm), getting him ready for the fall season with the help of my trainer, Werner Geven. [After] Jockey Club he will get a much-deserved winter vacation,” shared Kennedy.
“[She’s] been living the life” Kennedy said of her Auburn Orange team horse, Subtle Dream Unveiled, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred mare. “Lucy Desportes is currently leasing [Subtle Dream Unveiled aka] Dreamer from me. Dreamer and Lucy are getting to know each other and having lots of fun together. They have been competing at dressage shows and schooling shows together and have placed in the ribbons every time!” emphasized Kennedy.
For Kennedy, her summer after the Championship included both horses and schoolwork. “This summer I was doing research for my master’s thesis at Auburn. I am happy to be back in classes for the Fall semester.” Now that Kennedy is considered a graduate student, she remains hopeful that she’ll be able to represent Auburn at future Intercollegiate Championships as an alumna. “I would love to compete in the Championship next year. My future plans for eventing are to continue to compete and have fun while still in school.”
Meredith Kramer rounded out her junior year at Auburn University with a double win at the Virginia Horse Trials as she was the winner of the Novice Rider division on her own Thoroughbred gelding, Kentucky Gentleman. Wining one of the largest divisions at the Virginia Horse Trials – a division with 40 starters, helped seal the deal for Auburn Orange team winning the championship title. The win also helped Kramer and Kentucky Gentleman (aka Chance) have a successful move back up to Training level. “I did a few summer shows and most recently moved back up to Training at Jump Start [Horse Trials],” said Kramer.
Another Auburn student looking forward to the 2019 Championship, Kramer emphasized “I hope to be at the Championship in May.” As far as her future plans in eventing, Kramer admitted, “That’s something I’m currently trying to figure out!”
Two members of the Auburn Orange Team competed against one another at the Ocala Jockey Club CCI*, and both finished on their dressage score. Aubrey Wagner completed Ocala Jockey Club with her Intercollegiate Championship horse, Clooney MS, the same horse she rode to secure the win for Auburn Orange by winning the CCI*-B division at the Virginia Horse Trials. Since their CCI* win, they’ve been working hard on their dressage. “We have been gearing up for Ocala Jockey Club. He’s a great mover but is a strong German horse so we have been trying to get the [dressage] score down a bit before we move up to Intermediate in the spring,” said Wagner.
With one horse winning at the CCI* level and one horse at the Intermediate level, Wagner is focused on having fun in the sport of eventing. “I’d like to keep going as far as I can in the sport. I hope to be consistent at the two-star level and keep looking up from there. I don’t want to make any concrete plans for my future (just yet). Right now, I’m just focusing on having fun with my horses and seeing how far we can go!”
Watch out for Auburn University at the 2019 Intercollegiate Championship which will be held at Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials in Fairburn Ga, as they will be looking to reclaim their title. “It’s my favorite event in Area III and we’re so lucky to have the championship so close next year,” said Wagner. “We are so excited [and] since it’s so close to us, we are hoping to send at least three teams,” said Johnson.
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. Click here to learn more about the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
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The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).