War Horse Event Series Providing Safe, Educational Introduction to Eventing

Dylan Phillips and Bumble Bee Brave. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography. Dylan Phillips and Bumble Bee Brave. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

The Carolina Horse Park just completed the first year of its $10,000 War Horse Event Series (WHES), which is made up of five unrecognized events designed to promote education, safety and a positive introduction to eventing for both young horses and riders new to the sport.

The idea is to give these horses and riders a solid foundation to ultimately progress safely through the levels, as top show jumping course designer and series director Marc Donovan explains.

“We want every horse and rider to have a positive experience, and we feel this arrangement will provide all competitors with the opportunity to achieve the best results possible,” Marc said. “We are committed to helping riders in the eventing community further their education, build strong foundations, and train young horses.”

Marc Donovan and Dr. Tom Daniels. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

War Horse Event Series Director Marc Donovan and Dr. Tom Daniel of Southern Pines Equine Associates. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

The War Horse Event Series is the latest evolution of the Carolina Horse Park’s former Cabin Branch Event Series. Each competition in the series, including the championships, runs over two days, with the first day offering schooling opportunities in the dressage and show jumping rings and on the actual cross country course.

Licensed dressage judges are on hand during these schooling days to give tips for an improved score on a rider’s dressage test, while Marc sets a show jumping course that is different from the course that is used in the next day’s actual competition.

Competitors are also allowed access to the water complex for schooling, as well as certain jumps on the cross country course in a different sequence than what is used in the actual competition. Then the event takes place the following day.

The War Horse Event Series received tremendous support from all along the East Coast this season, with 1,310 total competitors from 10 different states participating in the shows; 145 riders ultimately qualified for this month’s championships across five levels: Green as Grass (18”), Maiden (2’3”), Beginner Novice (2’7”), Novice (2’11”) and Training (3’3”).

Pat Gibson presents Lei Ryan with the War Horse Event Series Volunteer Award. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

Pat Gibson presents Lei Ryan with the War Horse Event Series Volunteer Award. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

Maureen Grippa, executive director of the Carolina Horse Park, said the venue takes a lot of pride in the fact that the series runs unrecognized events in a welcoming atmosphere and with an outstanding competition experience for riders, owners, trainers, volunteers and sponsors.

“The WHES … is equally important to our calendar as it provides such an outstanding introductory eventing experience for riders and horses throughout the region, while also running at a standard comparable to that of the Carolina International,” Maureen said.

The series offered $5,000 in prize money this year thanks to sponsors Adequan and Southern Pines Equine Associates, plus $5,600 in additional prizes for the competitors. Thoroughbred Incentive Program awards were also given at each show. Formal prize giving ceremonies helped provide a memorable competition experience for the riders.

Congratulations are in order for the War Horse Event Series division champions: Amy Howes and Rablin’ Rosie in Green as Grass, Heather Erickson and Aly’s Abram in Maiden, Betsy Freedman and Sister Golden Hair in Beginner Novice, Charles Plumb and Imperial Phillip in Novice, and Marianne Price and Rhyming Rebel in Training. Click here to view all the final leaderboard.

Deena Tiches and CMA Mint Julep (Jockey Club name Then Again) accept their award. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

Deena Tiches and CMA Mint Julep (Jockey Club name Then Again) accept their award. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.

One more big perk of the War Horse Event Series is that it gives back. The series name the Special Forces Charitable Trust as its beneficiary for the 2015 season, giving a check for $6,100 to the trust this month. This wonderful organizations helps to support Special Forces families before, during and after deployment and aids countless military families each year.

“Our 2015 co-sponsorship of the War Horse Event Series is exciting for our team on so many levels,” Dr. Tom Daniel of Southern Pines Equine Associates, said. “With the new event comes the opportunity to also share goodwill and charity in the community. First and foremost, we are hoping to bring awareness of the challenges our veterans and their families face by partnering with the Special Forces Charitable Trust.”

Kudos to the Carolina Horse Park and the War Horse Event Series team for providing an excellent opportunity for young horses and riders new to the sport to receive a safe, educational introduction to eventing. Click here for more information on the War Horse Event Series, including dates for the 2016 series.

Thank you to Allie Conrad Photography for providing wonderful photos from the 2015 War Horse Event Series.

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