UK Eventing team looks forward to new season


Hannah Warner, president of the UK Eventing team, rides a horse on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Photo provided by Grace Valvano.

Lindsey Davis

After a successful 2021 season, the University of Kentucky Club Eventing team is now focusing on training, its accomplishments and what’s to come in 2022.

Eventing is an equestrian sport in which a horse and a rider team up to compete in the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The team does not have any requirements to join. Students can join as a social member if they do not have their own horse, but they must have one to join as a competitor.

“Jump right in,” UK graduate and former team president Jackie LeMastus said. “There are no tryouts or cuts, and the different membership types that the team has really means that there is a place for everyone on the UK eventing team.”

Team faculty advisor Dr. Jill Stowe agreed, saying that the team’s accessibility has led to diversity in its membership.

“One of the many things I love about this team is how many out-of-state students are involved,” Stowe said. “When we last looked at the membership, if I recall correctly, I think 50% of the members were from states other than Kentucky.”

Despite the accessibility of the team, members still encounter difficulties, such as managing the stress of both competing and being full-time students. Team president Hannah Warner, a junior business major, said the two obligations can be hard to balance, but her team members are supportive.

“We all make study groups and stuff and make time for each other,” Warner said. “We’re all so close and everyone is so willing to lend a hand.”

The university allows members excused absences to compete, which helps them balance school and eventing.

The 2022 eventing season has already begun in Florida, but it will not start in Kentucky until April. However, Stowe said that students can travel to Florida for the winter season if they want to get a head start on their training and competition.

“This team is different from most – it is very decentralized,” Stowe said. “There is no team coach or team facility. Members ride and train with whomever they want and wherever they want.”

All of the event riders at UK train at different barns, but they come together to compete as a team.

“That’s the coolest thing for me, when we all come together,” Warner said. “Everyone is so dedicated to the team, even when nobody’s watching.”

On average, the competitive riders train four to six days a week, but there are some who ride every single day because they have multiple horses. They also engage in strength training while the horses receive treatment such as massages and acupuncture therapy.

“The horses work just as hard as the riders,” Warner said.

UK’s eventing team won the 2021 United States Equine Association Intercollegiate Championship. Warner described the championship team as “the perfect combination of riders.”

“We planned the team so strategically, and we kind of set ourselves up for success,” she said. “All of the people who weren’t competing went out to watch them ride and be supportive. It was so fun to watch everyone come together. It was definitely a whole team effort.”

LeMastus said the victory was “incredible.”

“We had been so close to winning before, placing second and third in 2019, that it was so special to finally have a championship win for UK,” she said. “I was so thankful that we were able to take home the championship during my senior year and my last semester as president of the team, it really made the win that much more special.”

In 2020, the team was the highest-ranking USEA intercollegiate team, despite its season being cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think not having a team for those semesters has helped people enjoy it and appreciate it more and want to be more involved,” Warner said. “I always tell people that you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. If you make the effort to meet people, you’re going to make friends. It’s been so fun to watch people come back to it.”

The team doesn’t receive any funding from the university, so the best way to support them is by going to and donating to their fundraisers.

“In the past, the team has done many different fundraisers, including jumper shows for local riders to come compete in and practice before major events in the area,” LeMastus said.

The team has also put on a 5K race, bake sales and restaurant nights.

“While it can be difficult having to fundraise all the money that the team makes, the fundraisers the team puts on act as such great team building events for the members, that I think it’s a great experience for the team,” LeMastus said.

The team also produces merchandise. Warner explained that she wanted people to wear team merchandise, but in a way that represents them well and in a respectful manner.

“The more people we have wearing the merch, the better,” Warner said.

When it comes to the team’s general success, Warner credits the team’s officers for brightening up the team and helping people to enjoy eventing more.

“They’ve been a God-send,” she said.

Stowe agreed, citing the club’s strong leadership as a contributor to its success.

“Having officers with vision and willingness to put boots on the ground has made the team what it is today,” Stowe said.