As the Auburn Eventing Team is fresh off their win at the USEA Intercollegiate Championships, we wanted to get to know the team and how it started. Auburn’s team is just one of 28 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Teams in the country. The intercollegiate program is continuing to grow and it’s a wonderful way to continue eventing in college and experience the sport in a team-oriented sense.
In 2013, Mary Atkins Hunt founded Auburn’s eventing team, which started with just a few childhood riding buddies. Along with Mary, Carley Whetstone, Claire Robinson, Betsy Kaywood, Kyndal White, Lucia Menozi, Sally Colbert, Meagan Baker, and Casey Driscoll were the founding members of the team.
Fun fact: Auburn was actually one of the founding teams in the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program, which officially started in 2015 after Leslie Threlkeld and Claire Kelley brought their ideas to life. In May of 2016, Auburn earned third place at the inaugural USEA Intercollegiate Championships at Virginia H.T. where eight other schools were competing.
“We are really fortunate in that the area we are in at Auburn is surrounded by a lot of big events and venues, so there were already several girls at the school who were eventing,” this past year’s president, Gabrielle Yashinsky said.
The team really began to grow as the intercollegiate program in general is becoming more popular within the U.S. “We have girls visiting Auburn and looking at the school specifically because of the program, so it’s really cool how it’s developed from just a few members to now we have 41 girls on the team,” Gabrielle said.
As the team continued to grow, they became more well-known within Auburn, garnering more of the school’s support. Aubie the Tiger, their mascot even showed up to cheer the team on at championships this year!
The team meets once a month and the executive members talk about upcoming events and they host clinics once or twice a month. Outside of horses, the team comes together for events like football watch parties, tailgates, and team dinners.
“We also do team workouts twice a week where we are fortunate enough to have personal trainers within the Auburn Rec Center that we get to work with who have helped us focus on specifically what will help with our riding skills,” Gabrielle said.
Most members board at H&G Horse Quarters, Silver Lining Equestrian, Bright Farms, or Flint Hill Farm. “Everyone gets to choose what they want, where they want to put their horse depending on their needs, at various distances from campus, and different coaches and stuff like that,” Gabrielle said.
Lindsey Lanier, owner of Flint Hill Farms, is generous enough to allow the team to host their clinics at her property. “It has nice cross country and a dressage arena, so we all come together for that at this one specific barn whenever we’re bringing someone in or hosting a clinic,” she said.
Even if students don’t have their own horse, they can still participate in team activities. Members who aren’t able to bring their horse to school with them, their horse is injured, or they don’t have a horse can be part of the team as non-competing members.
“They’ll do things like audit clinics, cheer us on at all the team challenges, do all the social events, and meetings so it allows them to still participate even if they don’t have a horse at the current moment,” Gabrielle said.
Since the team doesn’t receive funding from Auburn, they put a lot of effort into fundraising. They focus on funding championships, clinics, and shows. Fundraisers like selling t-shirts and sweatshirts, hosting an auction, or opening their clinics to the public helps bring in more funds. “We’re always adding new things to help us raise money so that we can support the team even more,” Gabrielle said.
Auburn’s eventing team has been fortunate enough to be sponsored by Fairfax & Favor and they recently started a new partnership with Lululemon. “It’s really cool that some of these brands are starting to see what we’re doing and want to be a part of it and we get great deals out of it.”
Gabrielle has enjoyed being part of the team throughout her time at Auburn, even though she was worried about having enough time for it at first. “I think most of our girls say that having a horse at school has been very therapeutic for them in a way because it’s a way to escape off campus to hang with other people who have the same love for horses that we all do,” she said.
“It just gives you a really great community and especially at a school like Auburn where it’s really big and intimidating, it’s super nice because you’re meeting all these people with similar interests right away,” Gabrielle continued.
The team has worked hard all season to bring home the win at championships this year. “To bring home the national championship and the spirit award was just a really amazing feeling I think that everyone will remember for a long time,” Gabrielle said.
Having a team-like atmosphere in eventing is becoming increasingly valued, thanks to the founding of the intercollegiate program. “Everyone’s always there to support each other and help out, so it’s just a super close-knit group of girls who all share the same passion,” Gabrielle said.
“I’ve loved my four years on the team and wouldn’t change anything about it,” Gabrielle said.
War Eagle and Go Eventing.
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