I'm sure you're all aware that while hunter-jumper, western and dressage riders have participated in intercollegiate competition for some time now, eventers have been largely excluded from the intercollegiate scene. But starting this year, this status quo will be changing for riders of the west coast.
Members of the UC Davis Event Team founded the West Coast Collegiate Eventing League (WCCEL) six months ago and are preparing for the start of the 2010-2011 competition season. WCCEL competitions are open to all students enrolled in a college or university and take place as a division of an existing USEA-recognized event. Teams are made up of 3-4 riders of any levels and riders get the opportunity to meet students from other schools while competing against them and getting awards as teams and as individuals.
We held our first trial event at the April 9-11 Ram Tap Horse Trials. It was a very successful and fun event, with 17 riders from 7 different schools participating and Chico State taking home the top honors. We are planning to have our first fall event at the Oct 23-24 Ram Tap (note- this date is planned but not yet confirmed). We are looking at also having a spring event at Woodside and possibly hosting a multi-day clinic in the spring as well.
My teammates and I are very excited about the formation of this league, and are reaching out to the eventing community to recruit college students and to get more people interested and involved.
Let us know what you think about the new league!
This is a wonderful idea and I wish you the best of luck with it!
However, it is a little unfair to say that eventers have been "excluded from" the intercollegiate scene. If you look at how IHSA and IDA shows are run--and the tremendous benefit that is to schools that don't have equestrian programs--it's pretty obvious why the same strategy won't work with eventing. But that happens to be the strategy that IHSA and IDA operate with, and it is a significant element in the success of those two programs.
Doing this with eventing takes the cost-effectiveness and time efficiency issues for students to a whole other level. Eventers are entirely different creatures, and for the real ones, this will not be a problem. But it will limit the ability to grow programs as it will be less attractive to capable, but less dedicated, riders.
But, anyhow, I'm glad that eventers will have an outlet, and I do wish you the best of luck with this endeavor!
"One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine
Monstrpony, I definitely agree with you in regards to how the nature of intercollegiate competition doesn't naturally fit the eventing model. UC Davis is one of the few schools in California with the ability to host IHSA (HJ) and IDA (dressage) competitions, and I personally have lots of experience with both competing in and running traditional intercollegiate shows.
Having eventing competitions that operate in a manner that is similar to IHSA and IDA simply isn't practical, because of both logistical constraints and safety issues (catch-riding on a cross country course could get quite ugly). The WCCEL is actually modeled loosely after the USEA Young Rider Program and is quite different from the the IHSA and the IDA.
Our goal with the WCCEL is to create a venue that encourages college students to continue (or start) eventing and that allows them to represent their schools in friendly competition. Many eventers do young rider and pony club while growing up, but then lose the ability to continue these activities (due to age, location and time constraints) when they leave for college. Furthermore, there are a lot of HJ and dressage riders that are curious about eventing but have never gotten to try it. About half the members of the event team at UC Davis never evented until they had to opportunity to join the team. We're hoping that down the line, more schools will form viable event teams and encourage college students to both begin and continue to participate in eventing.
As an area VII eventer who has been tolerating IHSA with no other options, and greatly missing my sport in college... this is very exciting! Unfortunately I have to agree that this doesn't really help many students, myself included, to get involved. My parents sold my horse when I went to college, so I don't have my own animal to compete, which is one of the perks of IHSA, it still gives me the opportunity to get in the saddle.
I understand the dangers and complications that would be associated with catch-riding eventers, particularly for cross-country I suppose. But it does still prevent enthusiasts like myself from getting to pursue our sport during school. I would be interesting to perhaps find sponsors, or donor situations that would be willing to negotiate sponsored half-leases or something of the sort to pair riders with suitable horses in the area, and give them the opportunity to train and compete with a familiar animal.
Anyhow, this is exciting, I hope it grows and expands into something I may be able to take part in one day.