Friends of UNH XC Looks for Support as Area I Season Kicks Off

UNH in years past. Photo via Friends of UNH XC on Facebook.

While much of the eventing community cast their gaze towards Lexington, Kentucky, for Rolex, competitors in the Northeast flocked to Durham, New Hampshire, for the first sanctioned Area I event of the year. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Horse Trials marks the official beginning of the season and after long New England winters, it’s always a much anticipated event.

In recent years, however, the UNH cross country course, and by extension the horse trials, have been in danger due to budgetary pressure from the University. Additionally, the cross country course has weathered over the years and is in need of a major overhaul. With no money received from the University for upkeep of the course, it relies solely on schooling fees and facility rentals to finance its repairs and renovation.

Event secretary Liz Oertel Johnson and Chair of the Horse Trials Committee Christina Keim enjoy the course. Photo via Friends of UNH XC on Facebook.

In order to preserve one the longest running remaining Area I events, the Friends of UNH XC was founded in early 2016 to help raise money to put towards an overhaul of the cross country course. When last we checked in with the Friends after the fall horse trials last year, they had hosted a successful silent auction over the competition weekend as well as a few fundraising events such as clinics and derby crosses put on by generous individuals and organizations over the summer. At last week’s event there was another silent auction running throughout the event in addition to a raffle for cross country schooling season passes.

The Friends are now one-fifth of their way towards their goal of raising $50,000 towards renovating the course. “We have a long way to go, but if everyone gave something, we would be there,” said Rachel Greene-Lowell, one of the Friends co-chairs.

Photo by Abby Powell

If you want to help preserve the UNH course for generations to come you can make a donation (write ‘Equine Cross Country Fund’ on the designation line) and stay tuned for announcements of upcoming fundraising events.   There is also still time for local stables organize their own clinic or other event to benefit the cause. In particular, the Friends are also looking for businesses and farms to sponsor a jump; with a $1,500 donation a fence on course will have a sign with the business’ or farm’s name on it, plus they will be included in the program and announced over the loudspeaker at the event. The push to secure funding to upgrade and update the course is a push to secure the future of this event in Area I and to preserve the land for the enjoyment of generations of equestrians to come.

As the season up North is just kicking off, now is the time to get involved. Denny Emerson writes, “I hope we can understand that when we talk about the ‘they,’ as in ‘They need to improve Area I events,’ the ‘they’ is really ‘us.’ Help out. Give money. Give support. The choice between having or losing these top events like UNH is ours to make.”

Thanks to Rich Sorensen we can all enjoy a taste of the action at the water complex from the weekend of competition: