Key sponsors like Nutrena Feeds and the western clothing store Boots & More are helping drive the success of Mississippi College's Equestrian Team. MC's team is blessed to have such outstanding sponsors step forward, and welcomes others, says Jamie Planck Martin, owner of Providence Hill Farm, headquarters for the Christian university's program.
Nutrena Feeds recently agreed to provide free feed for the team's ten horses. With names like Forever Young, Highland Laddie and Hale Bopp, MC horses are active animals with huge appetites. Typically, each horse consumes six pounds of grain daily. Just do the math and it's a diet that translates into big dollars year-round.
"This is a great sponsorship and should result in a $10,000 to $20,000 value in a year," said Martin, an avid rider and energetic booster of the MC program. "This sponsorship will allow us to seek more and better horses for the team members to use, show and practice on and will have a significant effect on the team's competitiveness."
Added Martin: "We are thrilled that Nutrena has recognized the success and worthiness of the new team and is willing to provide such a large sponsorship."
Nutrena carries feed made by Cargill, the largest grain commodities company in the United States. Cargill works with major research institutions such as Kentucky Equine Research and Cornell University to develop horse feeds using cutting edge technology.
Nutrena offers a complete line of feeds and supplements designed to provide optimum nutrition throughout all phases of an animal's life, its web site says. The company is listed as an educational partner with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
MC's family also wants to express its appreciation to the clothing shop Boots & More on High Street across from the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. For the second year in a row, the company has generously provided riding jackets, shirts and pants for all the MC team members, Martin said.
"The riders all look very professional," with attire that is up-to-date in today's collegiate riding world, she said.
Lisa Knight, co-owner of Boots & More, said it's been a wonderful experience working with the MC team. The relationship with Mississippi College, she said, is an asset on both sides of the fence. "They've helped us to know what is correct for the English style of riding," she said.
The store donates uniforms made by Ariat plus other clothing items worth several thousands dollars each year, Knight said.
Thanks in part to these type of stellar sponsorships, the equestrian team led by interim coach Becky Baumel is faring well during its second season.
Last weekend, MC senior Meredith Guider, 21, of Utica turned in a solid performance at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's regionals at Sewanee, TN. On March 14, she finished in first-place in novice over the fences and second in novice flat. Now, she's qualified for the zone competition in Brooklet, Ga. on March 28. Other schools competing in Zone 5, Region 1, in 2008-2009 include Mississippi State University, Vanderbilt, Tennessee Tech, Middle Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University and Maryville College.
Guider hopes her Georgia performance will be her ticket to the nationals at Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro April 23-26. Last year, the MC business major finished fourth best in the U.S. at the nationals in Los Angeles.
MC team member Sara Mellado, 21, of Mesquite, Texas, also competed in the regionals at Sewanee on Saturday with a ninth-place finish in advanced walk, trot and canter.
"I am very happy with the success of our two riders," Baumel said last week. "It takes hard work to make it that far. It is rewarding to see them succeed."
Baumel is an experienced ribbon-winning rider. Originally from Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, Baumel began her riding career as a six-year-old. She was a member of Findlay University's 2007 and 2008 National Reserve Champion Teams and was national champ in novice fences her junior year at the college in Ohio.
A 2008 Findlay graduate with a double major in equestrian studies and business management, Baumel succeeded former MC coach Mandi Callaway Powers in November 2008.
MC's season is far from finished. Members of the team are expected to perform at horse shows in Canton at the Multi-Purpose Center March 21-22, and at 2,000-acre Providence Hill Farm April 18.
For more information on MC's program, contact Providence Hill Farm at 601-925-0557 or the MC athletic department at 601-925-3341 or visit www.mc.edu