MSU Eventing Team Gearing Up for Spring Season

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By Tommy Brannon

The Mississippi State University (MSU) Eventing Team began its spring season at the Poplar Place Horse Trials in Hamilton, Georgia on March 25-27, 2016. The competition included all three phases: Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping.

Two members of the team, Sarah Buffington riding Carpenters Jack and Alexis Tentler riding Curious George, joined two riders from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky to form a collegiate challenge team.  Other collegiate teams at the event were from Auburn University, the University of Alabama, the University of Georgia and Columbus State University, whose home base is the Poplar Place facility.

Teams are comprised of four riders who compete at their own level i.e. novice, training, etc., depending on the horse’s and rider’s ability. The lowest single score (highest number of penalties) of the four team members is dropped, and the remaining number of penalty points is tallied for the team score.

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has scheduled several events with Collegiate Team Challenges this spring. In addition to the Poplar Place Horse Trials, there will be collegiate team challenges at the Chattahoochee Horse Trials in Georgia April 9-10, the FENCE Horse Trials in Tryon, North Carolina April 16-17, and the Intercollegiate Championship at the Virginia Horse Trials, Lexington, Virginia May 26-29.

Eventing is a relatively new Collegiate Equestrian sport, originating just a few years ago with USEA. The Mississippi State team was founded in 2014. Unlike other collegiate equestrian sports, competitors ride their own horse at these events, rather than one drawn at random. 

The Mississippi State team has some riders with experience at eventing, but not all do. Sarah Buffington, for example, has previously ridden hunters.  Nor are all the riders Animal Science majors. One is a Marketing major and one is majoring in French. There are also three non-riding members, who provide “ground support.” The MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences sponsors the team, which is advised by Dr. Molly Nicodemus, Associate Professor of Equine Sciences. Three of the team members are heading across campus next year to enter the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine.

The trainers for the team are Betsy Ball and Jessie Schull, who house the eventing team at their Red Bud Farm, which is near the main Campus in Starkville and the Mississippi Horse Park. Jessie competes at the CCI2* level, and both trainers spend much of the winter in the Ocala Florida area. Some students have been able to join them there for competitions. One disadvantage for eventers is that the competitions are so spread out, making it necessary to haul to Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. But the team members are willing to go for the long haul.
MSU Eventing Team members were quite excited to be featured in the USEA’s post March 29, 2016. Read the post here:

Students interested in the Eventing Team can contact Nicodemus at For further information on intercollegiate eventingvisit:

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