Area riders participate in eventing clinic

Eventers from Mississippi and Tennessee gathered at Redbud Farms Equestrian in Oktibbeha County for a clinic with acclaimed rider and coach Buck Davidson. (Photo by Charlie
Benton, SDN)

Nationally acclaimed rider and coach Buck Davidson Jr., on ground, coaches young eventers at Redbud Farms
Equestrian in Oktibbeha County. Eventers from Mississippi and Tennessee participated in the clinic. (Photo by Charlie
Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

Some young riders from both Mississippi and Tennessee got to be coached by a world-class eventer Tuesday in Oktibbeha County.

Redbud Farm Equestrian on Blackjack Road hosted Buck Davidson Jr., a world-class eventer and coach with several medals and accolades to his name. Davidson coached a group of riders Tuesday and Wednesday. Most of the riders participating are students of Redbud Farm owner and trainer Betsy Ball. Approximately four of the riders participating are natives of Starkville and Oktibbeha County.

“It was a great opportunity for me to come see Mississippi and see the sort of up-and-coming future Olympians and team riders for America,” Davidson said. “It’s fantastic. Betsy and Jessie do a great job coaching everybody on a day-to-day basis, so I’m fortunate. I travel around the world giving clinics. You can tell when people are taught well, and kids ride really,really well, and that’s because of the coaching that they had.”

Davidson also explained the sport of eventing, saying it had three components: cross-country riding, dressage and show jumping.

“I think we all got into it because of the cross-country,” Davidson said. “We’re all adrenaline junkies, and we enjoy the excitement and the speed of the cross-country.”

Ball said her students had much to gain from working with Davidson.

“We teach most of these people here, so seeing Buck work with our students also gives us a little bit of fresh perspective,” Ball said. “It’s always good to bring people with expertise to the area.”

Both Ball and Davidson said they hoped to grow the sport in Mississippi, a place where eventing is still relatively uncommon.

“The sport of eventing in Mississippi is really growing, and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to bring different clinicians in, and we hope to grow the sport in the area,” Ball said.

The clinic also marked the awarding of the first annual Jon Sonkin Memorial Scholarship, awarded in memory of Jon Sonkin, a Starkville native heavily involved in the eventing community, who died in June 2017. The scholarship covered the fees for one rider to participate in Davidson’s clinic. The first scholarship went to 12-year-old Maddie Mogridge from Oxford. Mogridge has participated in eventing for five years, and has won the 2017 Region 3 Beginner/Novice Championship held in Atlanta.

“It really helped me and my family out, and it was a big blessing for me,” Maddie said. “I’m very thankful to have it and be able to ride.”

She said the jumping was her favorite aspect of eventing.

“It’s just amazing and unbelievable how we can get over these obstacles, and how fun it is,” Maddie said.