Queeny Park is the St. Louis area’s only event, nestled in the heart of Area IV. Looking back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories are of walking our horses across the street to go school cross country at Queeny.
This event is a homecoming of sorts for eventers in the St. Louis and surrounding areas. The park itself holds many memories (and probably some of my skin from the various falls I managed while schooling), so when I was offered the opportunity to be the event photographer this year I jumped at it.
There is something to be said about your “hometown event.” There’s a feeling of familiarity, walking around a park that recalls so many memories. As with every other event I’ve had the privilege of attending, the organizers and volunteers were as friendly as could be, despite the blistering hot temperatures and, true to Missouri fashion, rapidly incoming thunderstorms and downpour.
There are always familiar faces to be seen at Queeny Park, as it’s a community effort to organize and run. Organizer Jill Wagenknecht did a fantastic job of ensuring the event was run smoothly — no easy task with several locations to manage and temperamental Missouri weather to contend with.
For those of us eventing in the Midwest, it’s pretty neat to see a Rolex rider among our ranks — we don’t have Boyd and Buck here in Missouri! So when Meghan O’Donoghue brought out one of her young OTTBs, it added even more flair to the event. Meghan and Scottiforgottee won the Open Beginner Novice as well, no big deal.
There was a lot of great riding to see, and horses and riders alike handled the hike to the various competition areas and the weird weather with maturity. One thing that’s always interesting to observe is a dressage test ridden in a grass ring on relatively uneven ground. Once again, the organizers did a great job of ensuring the dressage areas were as even as possible, but riding on grass always poses different challenges.
Cross country day was hot and sunny, but all horses and riders came home safely and everyone looked to be enjoying themselves on the course designed by Cathy Weischhoff. Divisions ran from Starter through Prelim/Training, with a healthy mix of seasoned pairs, young horses, and amateur riders.
Stadium day presented a challenge in itself, with torrential downpour threatening just minutes before the P/T began. Sure enough, the floodgates opened just in time for the show jumping to start, presenting a big challenge for photos and, more importantly, for staying in the tack!
Course designer Brody Robertson was on hand to supervise the footing and the course, skillfully pointing out areas that needed some reinforcement from the growing mud and even jumping under the rope several times to assist the jump crew.
Fortunately, the rain cleared in time for the lower levels to complete their last phase, holding off until the last courtesy rider had been ushered through the out gate. It was the end of another perfect weekend for St. Louis eventing.
Though the community is small, it’s close knit, and many people are involved in ensuring the long term success of the event. Thank you to each and every one of the hard working volunteers, organizers, judges, designers, riders and grooms who made this weekend run so smoothly.
It’s hometown events such as this that are the backbone of our sport. Everyone has an event they call “home” — and Area IV eventers are fortunate to be able to have Queeny Park as one of their own.