Closing date for the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is today! Still hemming and hawing about whether to enter the event, to be held Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in Parker, Colorado? I’ve attended the AEC at its past four locations (Illinois, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina) in various capacities (rider, friend, coach, press), and I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.
Maybe this year’s AEC is off the beaten path for you geographically, but it’s well worth the trek — a true destination event. You better believe I’m heading to the 15th annual edition, and I don’t want you guys to miss out!
Here are seven reasons to just put that entry in already:
- You earned it. You worked hard, you qualified (see AEC qualified riders and horses), and now it’s time to go enjoy the victory lap of your successful season. Don’t miss the opportunity to test yourself against horses and riders from around the country for the chance to earn the ultimate title of National Champion.
- It’s the feel-good event of the year. The USEA goes above and beyond to make sure competitors and their peeps have a fun, celebratory and memorable experience. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes + swag galore + parties every evening = why would you miss this, seriously?
- It’s a picture-perfect venue. Just imagine your cross country photos with the dramatic Rocky Mountains looming in the background! Feel the sun on your back and the alpine wind on your face! The Colorado Horse Park is a beautiful, first-class facility with a variety of amenities to make horses and riders alike feel at home — visit the website here.
- Bring the whole barn. In addition to championship divisions, the event includes non-championship “festival classes” from Beginner Novice through Preliminary. There’s even an Intro level with an optional ditch and water jump. Comparable to normal horse trial divisions as far as cost, prizes and difficulty (they will run the same Tremaine Cooper-designed courses as the AEC divisions but with some non-championship options), the festival classes offer non-qualified horses the chance to gain experience in a big show atmosphere.
- Bring the whole family. The Colorado Horse Park is located less than an hour outside Denver, one of the U.S.’s friendliest, cleanest and most colorful cities, and outdoorsy activities abound in the area. With a little creativity you can convince that fam that this isn’t just an event, it’s a vacation. If the long road trip is a sticking point, look into budget airlines — my flight from Knoxville to Denver was $206 through Frontier.
- It’s more than JUST an event. The AEC is a panoramic view of eventing as it exists here in the U.S. — the pyramid-shaped representation of Beginner Novice to Advanced level riders, the connective tissue that exists between amateurs and pros, the sport’s sweeping geographic scope, and the heroic roles performed by organizers, volunteers and supporters.
- It’s an opportunity to give back. Speaking of volunteers, the AEC is in need of some. Can you lend a helping hand? Volunteering is a great way to show your support for the sport you love; AEC helpers will be provided with goodies including coffee and donuts, lunch and 2018 AEC hats. Sign up through the Eventing Volunteers portal to make your hours credible with the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP). Teamwork makes the dream work!