The Inaugural USEA Intercollegiate Championship came down to a nail-biting finale with first and second place teams separated by less than a point. It was The University of Georgia (UGA) Red Team who hunkered down this weekend to finish victorious walking away with the top spot. The Bulldogs won on a combined score of 99.06, advancing ahead of the overnight leaders, Clemson University, on the final day of competition.
The team was made up of Seniors Emily Cox, Kaityn Ruff, Devon Olivier in the training division and Sophomore Emily Cardin in the novice division. They held second place after their dressage and show jumping phases on Saturday. Cox, Olivier and Cardin had the lowest collective scores, giving them the win after three double clear cross-country runs around John Michael Durr’s new track.
Clemson University saw some unfortunate rails for their CCI* combinations which set them back in the rankings, but the Tigers still finished as the Reserve Champions. Their team was made of Seniors Samantha Hay and Anna Fogerty, Junior Sarah Pyne and Sophomore Alex Peterson.
Auburn University finished as the third place team on a combined score of 105.27. Team members Andrea Glazer, Sallie Johnson and Kayley Bush competed in the training division and Lydia Kennedy rode in the novice division.
In addition to walking away with top honours and as many prizes as they could hold thanks to the Intercollegiate Program’s generous sponsors, the University of Georgia girls also claimed the coveted Spirit Award, for showing the most school pride throughout the weekend. “We went all out,” said Team President Emily Cox. “We wore all our matching gear and we did something special for cross-country; we covered our horses in paint.” UGA riders could be spotted across the hillside at the Virginia Horse Center with the famed “Georgia G” painted across the rump of each horse.
“Overall this team has so much spirit. We’re all there for each other, and we each had somebody waiting at the finish line for us on cross-country, and it was just great team spirit all together,” Cox elaborated. Team members earned refunded entries from the Virginia Horse Trials for their impressive show of school spirit.
This championship brought together students from across the east coast for a weekend of great riding, school spirit and healthy competition. Event Organizer Any Bowles was thrilled with the outcome of this trailblazing weekend commenting, “I’ve officiated at young rider championships all around the world, and the comradery I saw here rivals those events.”
Many schools met here for the first time, sharing strategy and tips for the weekend and beyond. “It was cool to see the whole collegiate atmosphere and to compete with [the other teams]. It’s really fun to be able to stable with them, and all of the colleges talked through courses together. We all really wanted everyone to do well,” said Cox.
The Intercollegiate Championship is slated to return to the Virginia Horse Trials next year, and all affiliated colleges and universities are challenged to send teams. This weekend was made possible by the sponsors of the Intercollegiate Program, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), Ride Safe, Fleeceworks and the Virginia Horse Trials.