Ol’ Army Defeats New Army at Inaugural MeadowCreek Park H.T. Alumni Team Challenge

We’ve enjoyed seeing Alumni Team Challenge competitions pop up at USEA events around the country, with college alumni squaring off against current event team members for a little glory. With the USEA’s Intercollegiate Eventing Program thriving and growing larger each year, the Alumni Team Challenges are a great way to extend the fun and camaraderie to the larger eventing community. 

Last weekend’s MeadowCreek Park H.T. in Kosse, Texas, featured its first Alumni Team Challenge. Texas A&M Eventing Team member Jessi Hart submitted this recap, which we are happy to share! View full results from MeadowCreek Park H.T. here

Photo by John Benson.

I got a story for ya Ags! This past weekend was the Area V spring opener held at the MeadowCreek Park Spring Social and Horse Trial. MeadowCreek Park, the official home of the Texas A&M Eventing Team, played host to the inaugural Texas A&M Alumni Team Challenge.

Riders of any level or age were welcome to participate in the team challenge. The only requirement was they had to be a loud and proud member of the fightin’ Texas Aggie family regardless of what year they graduated. This opportunity allowed graduates who earned their degree before the TAMU Eventing Team was established to represent the university they love as well as meet current team members.

Nine riders were able to compete as part of the team challenge, but Aggies seemed to be everywhere with family members and team members coming out to support the maroon and white.

As tradition dictates, Ol’ Army does it better. The seasoned pros clenched the first-place spot over the youngsters of the New Army Team.

Amy Clemmons (class of 1995) and Glenlord’s Full Moon Fortune, winners of the Prelim/Training division. Photo by John Benson.

Ol’ Army

Ol’ Army was well represented by Amy Clemmons ’95, Abbie Chappell ’05, Kendall Baker ’17, and Clarissa Conrad ’18. Amy Clemmons rode Glenlord’s Full Moon Fortune in the Prelim/Training division. Clemmons and her mount navigated a tricky cross country course picking up only a few time penalties and finished the weekend with a first-place ribbon.

Chappell rode her horse, Texas Renegade, in the Open Novice division. This pair steadily moved up the ranks throughout the weekend to finish in fourth place.

“My favorite part of the weekend was watching all the girls being so supportive of each other,” Chappell said. “They are wonderful representatives of what it means to be an Aggie.”

Baker and her Demitasse powered through the weekend and finished strong on a double clear cross country round to take home fifth place in the Senior Training Rider division.

Conrad and Indian Invention made their Beginner Novice debut and scored beautifully in dressage. The pair also closed out their weekend with strong cross country.

“This past weekend went very well. I loved how everyone was so willing to help each other, give advice, and cheer each other on,” Conrad said.

Kaitlyn Harkin (class of 2019) and Cash in Hand contested Beginner Novice. Photo by John Benson.

New Army

The New Army Team was represented by Hannah Ayoub ’19, Kaitlyn Harkin ’19, Sierra Roney ’19, Sarah English ’21, and Marissa Rewcastle ’21. The team came into the competition strong with stellar dressage rounds which left three of the five riders in ribbon position. However, the less than favorable weather leading up to the show caused many riders in the competition to accrue time faults in stadium and cross country. While several New Army members also had time faults, all the horses managed the footing and came home safe.

Ayoub and her young horse, Battle Cry, completed their first recognized horse trial. They competed in Beginner Novice and now look forward to more competitions.

Harkin and her horse, Cash in Hand, also navigated the Beginner Novice and have their eyes set on the Intercollegiate Championships in May. This pair rode a lovely stadium course and are eager to continue improvement on the way to champs.

“I loved mingling with all our alumni this weekend,” Harkin said. “I’m really looking forward to competing at Championships and coming back as an alumnus next year to compete in an alumni team challenge.”

Marissa Rewcastle (class of 2021) and WSS Bombs Away. Photo by John Benson.

English and her mount, Vinnie took home first in dressage at their second recognized horse trial and now look forward to a few more years on the A&M team.

“This weekend was an excellent learning opportunity for all of us, I enjoyed seeing how much everyone has improved since the fall,” English said. “I enjoyed involving the alumni because they provide so much support to the eventing team.”

Roney and Ooh La La also competed in Beginner Novice. The duo put in a lovely dressage test placing second. The pair had an unfortunate miss communication in show jumping, but they finished strong with a solid cross country.

Rewcastle and her horse, WSS Bombs Away, finished off the weekend with the final cross country round of the New Army team. While the pair is still working to ease back into competitions, they already have their sights set on Pine Hill in a few weeks.

“My favorite part of the weekend was simply hanging out with both teams,” Rewcastle said. “We were all so supportive each other during our rides.”

Photo by John Benson.

Aggies Love to Have Fun

In addition to the competition, the weekend was full of festivities. There was a silent auction during the Saturday night competitors’ dinner full of goodies from the TAMU Eventing Sponsors. All proceeds from the Saturday auction and weekend apparel sales will fund the A&M Team’s trek to the Intercollegiate Championships. The weekend was also full of birthday celebrations for several attendees.

The TAMU Eventing parents arranged a couple of birthday cakes and a birthday song from the live musical entertainment, Brice and the Lonesome Strings. In addition, the final day of the horse trial fell on St. Patrick’s Day. Some competitors dawned green hair and shamrock saddle pads while the ground jury wore tiny green top hats. As eventers know, life is never boring at a horse show.

Although Ol’ Army may have won this weekend, New Army is determined to return next year to claim the title. The team will spend the rest of the 2019 spring season preparing for the Intercollegiate Championship in Chattahoochee, Georgia, in May with an A&M/ TCU team challenge at the Texas Rose Spring Horse Trials in two weeks. So let’s wish them luck and send a good old Aggie “Whoop!” as the riders prepare to BTHO champs.