Auburn’s club eventing team is making a name for themselves with first and fourth place finishes at the United States Event Association, USEA, Intercollegiate Eventing Championship.
Eventing, otherwise known as the “Horse triathlon,” is a three-phase competition spanning over the course of three days.
Auburn's eventing team is different from Auburn’s Equestrian team, except that they both brought a national championship for horse sports back to The Plains. Eventing consists of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
“The team will definitely continue to train and ride as we normally would but the win just gives us the extra drive to continue to do well so we can defend our title at next year's championship show,” said Auburn Eventing Team President, Kaley Bush.
At the 2016 and 2017 USEA Intercollegiate Championship, Auburn placed third. But 2018 was their year.
In eventing, the lowest score wins, Bush said. Out of 23 teams, Auburn had the lowest score of 92.125.
During the dressage portion of the competition, judges consider the riders’ ability to communicate with their horse while performing a memorized pattern.
The cross-country portion of the competition has riders jump through natural obstacles, being judged by their top speed and ability.
Finally, during the show jumping portion of the competition riders perform jumps in a confined area.
There is a significant time commitment involved for the members of the club eventing team. Riders train and compete using their own horses so they spend countless hours at the barn each week.
“[We spend] easily 12-14 hours [each week],” Bush said. “But I know some of the girls spend more because some of them have multiple horses.”
The horses and their human counterparts are partners and have been for several years.
“A lot of us have been riding the same horses for many years and they come with us to college," Bush said. "We have a great relationship with our horses since we see them every day and move up the levels together."
The Auburn club eventing team is no stranger to prestigious awards. In March 2017, Auburn's eventing teams received the Poplar Place Team Challenge award. Later in October 2017, Auburn's eventing team was awarded the Chattahoochee Hills Team Challenge.