USCA eventing team heads to national championship

May 23—USC Aiken was the only college Carson Langenberg applied to, despite the fact she had never even stepped foot in Aiken prior to touring the school. Originally from San Diego, Aiken was far from home, but she said it was the only college she wanted to attend.

"I always kind of had my heart set on Aiken," Langenberg said. "It was Aiken or bust."

She was ready to leave the hustle and bustle of San Diego behind in favor of small-town life and the more intimate instruction of a smaller school. However, the city's history with eventing and other equestrian sports was the real draw.

"Aiken is just a mecca for eventers and horse folks in general," said Michelle Hodge, staff advisor for the USCA eventing team.

Langenberg said she has been eventing almost her entire life and was looking for a way to continue competing in college. Before she had even been to USCA, she reached out to its eventing team. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed her start, but by the halfway mark of her second year, she was competing with the team, and by early 2023 she became its president.

USCA's eventing team is a club team, not an NCAA team, but it still has a long history of success. Langenberg hopes to build upon that history when she competes in a national eventing competition for the first time with the team later this week.

"What we lack in numbers, we have in persistence," Langenberg said. "We want to show the school that the USC Aiken eventing team is worth the money they set aside for us."

Langenberg will not be representing her college alone. Six riders from USCA will travel to Mill Spring, North Carolina, for the sport's national championship for collegiate teams. The competition runs May 26-28. Eventing teams are made up of three to four riders, only the top three scorers count, so USCA will be sending a full team and half of a team that will be paired up with Clemson.

"It's I think one of the biggest teams we've sent in at least the three years I've been here," Langenberg said. "We've got a great group of riders and they all have great horses."

It was not easy for Langenberg and her teammates to arrive here. Eventing is an expensive sport, which sometimes prohibits riders from competing. The USCA team held fundraisers throughout the year to ensure it had enough money to be well-positioned to succeed.

While fundraising, Hodge helps out a little, but she said students perform "99.99% of the work themselves." The team cleans horse stalls, runs bakes sales and sells team merchandise online to raise money.

"We take donations," Hodge said. "But it is just so expensive."

Langenberg aims to graduate in the fall but said she is looking forward to seeing where the eventing team goes from here and plans to stick around post-graduation to help out however she can.

"If we set a standard now, and we continue to recruit more girls while I'm still here, while my vice president is still here, we'll be able to kind of set a standard that may not have been set so far," Langenberg said. "Even when I graduate, I can help with any questions they might have and support them anyway I can."