During open hour on Thursday, November 2nd, students making their way through campus were drawn to the front of Old Morrison by an exciting sight. Three horses were calmly grazing on the lawn in front of the building. Transylvania’s Eventing Team had made its way to campus for a special meet and greet with their horses. The three horses, Moose, Felicity Doll (Fiz), and Aunt Tipsy (Tippy), were accompanied by their riders, Lily Callahan, Katrina Kottra, and Liz Howell respectively. I had the opportunity to speak with Howell about her experiences with Eventing and the response to the event from the Transy community.
Eventing is an equestrian sport where a horse and rider compete across three disciplines; dressage, cross country, and show jumping. Howell, who has been close to horses her entire life, talked about how she had only started competing in eventing relatively recently. “I actually didn’t start eventing until I joined the team!” said Howell. “It was something I’d always been interested in, and my mare, Tippy, didn’t have the right skill set to keep advancing in what we’d been doing up to that point, so making the switch seemed like a good idea.” Being in a region known for horses, it is no surprise that Lexington has a long eventing tradition, with one of the world’s largest eventing competitions, the Kentucky Three-Day Event, having been held in the Kentucky Horse Park annually since 1978. Howell emphasized how the Eventing opportunities with the team and in Lexington were a key part of her decision to attend Transy.
Despite horses being as important as they are to the region surrounding Transylvania, the Eventing team is often overlooked when compared to other campus sports and activities, either due to a general lack of knowledge of the sport or people being unaware of the team’s existence. The idea of bringing the horses to campus was proposed by Team Manager Kelly Shores as a way to introduce eventing to campus, and a way to thank those who had supported the team. “This year, we’ve really been trying to reconnect with campus as a team, because that’s something that hasn’t always been emphasized and I often am met with surprise that the team exists when I tell one of my peers that I’m on it,” said Howell. “Bringing the horses to Transy was a really great way to let the community meet the entire team and give back in a way to the school that has supported us!” At the event, students passing through stopped by and interacted with the horses, petting them, taking pictures, and feeding them apple chunks that had been provided by the team. Members of the team stood by to answer questions about their horses and eventing in general.
The event was a rousing success, as dozens of students came by during the hour-long event. Howell expressed gratitude at the positive feedback to the event she had received from the Transy community and was confident that this event and the impact it had on the people who attended it would enable the team to connect with campus more in the future. “Tippy met people who had never been close to a horse before, and it was really great seeing everyone from toddlers to students to faculty bonding with her,” said Howell. “I’m certain that many people around campus will not only remember the eventing team exists now but also walk away with a better understanding of our sport and why we love being partners with these animals.” Those who stopped by the Old Morrison lawn that day certainly had an unforgettable experience, and hopefully gained a newfound understanding of and appreciation for Transylavnia’s Eventing team.