While most eventing enthusiasts are turning their attention to Lexington, KY for Rolex this week, I invite you to momentarily fix your gaze 1600+miles west. Behold USEA Area VII… Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
- Area VII hosts the largest three-day event in the United States. Situated on 640 acres, The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana boasts over 450 entries, hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of spectators. It’s such a big event, some horses fly by plane to get there! This world-class event is known for its picturesque venue, top notch courses, fundraising efforts for cancer research, and much more. For many, it’s the highlight of the Area VII calendar.
- Area VII eventers compete nationally and internationally. There are talented, hard-working horses and riders here in Northwest. In 2013, Area VII riders participated in the national Developing Riders/Eventing 25 program (Lizzie Snow, Emily Pestl-Dimmit, and Mackenna Shea) and the Under 18/Advancing Athletes program (Patience O’Neal). We’ve noted Olympic eventers such as Amy Tryon, Kevin Freeman, and Todd Trewin. We’re home to pairs who have competed or are currently competing at the 2*, 3*, and 4* level, and each year Area VII riders make it onto national leaderboards for their divisions.
- Area VII Young Riders rock. Area VII’s YR program is the largest in the USEA, and the kids make it a success. Jessica Heidemann, last year’s YR coach, explains, “The kids are SO involved and have an amazing camaraderie.” Through the YR internal team program, 49 participants accumulated over 160 volunteer hours in the 2013 season, excluding the many hours they put into organizing and running the YR fundraiser horse trials at Lincoln Creek. Their involvement also shows in their results. For example, Area VII (mixed) teams were first in the CH-Y** at NAJYRC in 2012 and second in the CH-J* in 2013.
- Area VII is home to the Washington State Horse Park. Located in the heart of WA state, this nonprofit equestrian facility in Cle Elum caters to riders of all disciplines. The Horse Park is growing to accommodate the needs of eventers, ensuring the future of our sport by providing a permanent competition venue. The 112 acre facility currently has XC and derby courses through Training level, including a water complex, outdoor arenas, and stabling. There’s a successful fundraising effort underway to build a Prelim course this year. And, this May the Horse Park will host the first horse trials of the Area VII season. Check out this video highlighting the Horse Park’s amenities and goals:
- Area VII hosts two stops on the USEA Adequan Gold Cup/Pro Tour series. You won’t want to miss Rebecca Farm’s CIC3* in Kalispell, MT or the Advanced division at Aspen Farms Horse Trials in Yelm, WA. Both offer cash and prizes thanks to fantastic sponsors, and both can promise top notch spectator experiences in some of the best scenery of the west.
- The Area VII Adult Rider (AR) program shines. Hundreds of amateur and professional adult riders come together in the Northwest to have fun, learn, participate in team awards, and grow the sport. Carina Vollmer, seconded by many AR members, says “Every time I attend an Area VII AR function, I leave having made new friends.” Lisa Haugen Eppley elaborates, “AR provides a wonderful support system and a sense of family at events.” AR also sponsors fantastic clinics and camps with leading clinicians to further Area VII’s talent base. Members of AR are eligible for team programs and awards, discounts on fantastic training opportunities, and the program constantly supports and grows Area VII eventing through volunteerism. Word around the paddock is that we should watch for an Area VII AR team at the AECs in 2014!
- Area VII eventers represent grassroots eventing at its best. Though we may be far from the hubs of three-day eventing in the USA, we care about our horses, we care about our sport, and we care about one another. The eventing community here is strong thanks to each and every person who contributes–dedicated volunteers who brave the weather, driven horses and riders, committed instructors and trainers… Whether we’re fundraising for great causes, running schooling shows or world-class horse trials, or having fun around the bonfire at the end of XC day, there’s a place for any type of horse or rider here.
Learn more about Area VII on the USEA Area VII website, cheer for our horses and riders, and come visit us; we welcome you. Go Area VII!
Stay tuned here on my EN guest blog for coverage of Area VII eventing action.