Woodloch Stable marked a major milestone last month when the facility hosted its inaugural Eventing Derby in Hugo, Minnesota. Designed as a fun and relaxed opportunity to introduce riders and horses to the sport, the Eventing Derby attracted 61 combinations, many of whom competed in their very first show.
Held on Mother’s Day, May 13, and blessed with beautiful weather just three weeks following a blizzard, the Eventing Derby fulfilled a longtime goal for facility owners Bill and Ingvill Ramberg and event coordinator Lindsey Kahn.
Following the cancellation of Roebke’s Run, Minnesota now no longer has a USEA recognized horse trials in the state. While Otter Creek Farm in Wheeler, Wisconsin — about a 2-hour haul from Woodloch — hosts three recognized horse trials per year, making the trip can be a daunting task for event riders who are new to the sport.
“There are so many riders, particularly younger riders, who are interested in eventing but haven’t shown before,” Lindsey said. “Their parents can’t necessarily afford to spend $350 and an entire weekend to haul several hours away to a recognized horse trials and have them get eliminated due to a stop, or have show nerves and lack of experience make it too stressful to focus. Our goal was to give these families an opportunity to test the waters of eventing.”
Woodloch’s Eventing Derby offered an affordable introduction to eventing, with entry fees ranging from $75 to $85 depending on the level. Fix-A-Tests were also offered with dressage judge Nancy Porter, who provided constructive feedback on tests for all competitors.
The Eventing Derby offered four divisions: Introductory level with the the walk/trot USDF Intro A dressage test and a maximum jump height of 1-foot-11, Starter level with the USDF Intro C dressage test and a maximum jump height of 2-foot-3, and Beginner Novice and Novice level with the USEA dressage tests and standard jump heights.
With the Eventing Derby held on a Sunday, Woodloch hosted a jumping clinic with Dom Schramm the two days prior on the Friday and Saturday to help riders prepare. Dom is a big supporter of grassroots eventing throughout the U.S. and especially in Area IV, where he has taught clinics regularly since 2015.
“We love how patient and positive Dom is with kids and green horses,” Lindsey said, “and we love watching riders and horses gain confidence and have fun during his clinics.”
Dom also designed the cross country course for the Eventing Derby and was on-hand during the show to coach riders.
“The jumping course was designed to be both inviting and also realistically show the types of obstacles riders could expect at recognized shows. Our talented jump builder Alejandro Rocha made some gorgeous new jumps,” Lindsey said.
“Dom was present during the entire show to coach riders on course if they had any green moments with their horses. Even if riders got eliminated due to refusals, they were allowed to complete the course to give their horses positive, educational outings to better prepare them for future horse trials.”
Dom zipped around the cross country course on a scooter to encourage riders and help them work through trouble on course. Riders came away with an incredibly positive experience across the board.
“Many people told us that it was their first show ever. Some parents were getting a crash course in being a horse show mom or dad, and hopefully everyone had fun and will continue their horse show adventures,” Lindsey said.
“It was fun to see so much diversity at our schooling show. Participants ranged from first-timers to veterans, kids to adults, ponies to warmbloods, off-track Thoroughbreds to stock horses, and everything in between. There were even two Shires and at least one gaited horse.”
Lindsey said the Eventing Derby would not have been possible without a slew of volunteers who generously donated their time. Local tack shop St. Croix Saddlery provided prizes for competitors and also had a mobile tack trailer at the show. Dead Broke Saddle Club allowed Woodloch to use their rodeo arena for dressage and sponsored prizes for the youth classes. County Saddlery and Smart Tie also sponsored prizes.
“My eternal gratitude goes out to everyone who helped out, whether it was during the organizational process, setting up, sponsoring prizes, offering tips and ideas, and of course during the show itself,” Lindsey said. “We had no idea how it would go over, but were so thrilled with the turnout and the number of volunteers who helped before and during the derby.”
Scroll down for a photo gallery from the Eventing Derby courtesy of Ashley Schmitt of Fox River Photography. Our hats are off to Bill, Ingvill, Lindsey, Dom, the entire Woodloch team, and all those who invested so much time and energy to furthering the grassroots level of the sport in Minnesota.