Countdown to a Little Cross Country Course’s Big Debut: It’s All About the Ribbons …

A few months back a circle of boarders and volunteers affectionately known as Women, Wine & Whinnies took a jump — more like a leap of faith — into a major project designed to provide support for Horses for Healing, a therapeutic riding facility located in Bentonville, AR. Their big idea: a cross country course makeover that would allow them to host charity horse trials. They’ve been taking EN along on the journey — read previous blog posts here. Now the big date for their first event is fast approaching, March 15-16, and it’s crunch time! Find out more info about the event, which offers Green Bean through Training level horse trials divisions, here and register online here

Sneak Peek! Sneak Peek! Hi Andy! Photo courtesy of Horses For Healing.

… And entry forms. And course maps. And timers, bells, walkies, volunteer orientation, stabling assignments, and … holy moly things are happening fast at Horses for Healing!

Some sadistic person created a monster sized checklist (thanks!) and the WW&W crew have been assigned to their individual missions. Everything from confirming the judges, making sure we have a farrier and medic on call to assembling competitor packets and rule books. Yes, rule books. We may be in the mountains but we still do things proper like — this ain’t no free for all.

Where in the mountains you ask?

Our little patch of Area V is about 1.5 hours E of Tulsa … two hours SW of Springfield … three hours S of Kansas City … five hours NE of Dallas… five hours W of Memphis … 9.5 hours from Lexington … 10 short hours S of Chicago … 16 spellbinding hours very SW of Buffalo … 22 glorious hours extremely SW of Bromont, QC … and if you’ll be joining us from the EU we’ll have to get back to you. (We are soooo on top of the details…)

Back to the rule books: Helmets and safety vests will be required although the jury is still out on whether or not we will require riders to wear shoes.

You know what this means. On to step 5:

Step 5 – Get ‘Er Done

We’ve enjoyed the past few months of planning and research but the work we do over the next month will determine our success. We have had some very exciting developments lately. One of our very favorite clinicians has signed on as our dressage judge. Ribbons are on the way and will be roughly the size of a Texas homecoming mum (Google it — it’s a thing).

Our ladies have been beating the bushes for event sponsors — a never-ending task for a non-profit. We were totally stoked when Dover Saddlery very generously agreed to sponsor our rider awards (read: YOU CAN TOTALLY WIN A SWEET SADDLE PAD). To show our appreciation for the support we promptly began ordering items we totally and completely need. After all, every equestrian knows, “too many saddle pads / breeches / polo wraps / belts” is just an urban myth.

Two very beloved members of our barn family generously sponsored a new dressage arena, and the statute we will erect in their honor is currently in process. Most importantly our jumps are starting to arrive! Our course designer Andy Bowles became our own personal Captain America when he delivered two loads of beautiful, glorious jumps in the middle of January. Shiny new roll tops and benches in varying sizes that bring tears of joy (and possibly terror) to the eventer’s eye.

Photo courtesy of Horses For Healing.

Planning an event from scratch is a daunting task and we count each step toward our inaugural event as a win. However, these wins barely scratch the surface of the checklist. Now is the time we have to buckle down to make sure everything on the list, no matter how minor the detail, is fully covered — delivered correctly and on time.

The rain and snow that is a standard feature in Arkansas winters have slowed us down a bit. The paint won’t dry when it’s 32 degrees and the threat of heavy equipment getting stuck and potentially rutting up the course is something we aren’t willing to risk. In a few short weeks the remainder of our jumps will be delivered and we will begin putting the course together and placing the jumps, with Andy guiding us on a layout that’s safe, challenging and fun.

We’ll be calling in the big guns and scheduling heavy equipment for dirt work and excavation for a little something we’re keeping under our helmets for now. The property will need to be cleaned and prepped for our guests and work finished up on those keeper jumps we are rehabbing. We have homework assignments that include sourcing building timbers, prepping a fallen tree that is to be repurposed, finalizing the layout for an obstacle currently still in the design phase, and moving the recently delivered jumps to a staging area on course.

We’re officially in the sweat and blisters phase of our venture. We’re good with that, though.

After all, it’s all about the ribbons … and that moment we hand them to our riders.

Mark your calendars — event entries for our Charity Schooling Horse Trials opened February 1st. Be sure to visit to join us! Go Eventing!

Horses for Healing is an adaptive / therapeutic riding center located in Bentonville and serving special needs children throughout Northwest Arkansas. You can learn more at