“The most beautiful event all year.”
“One of my favorite events.”
“Not to be missed.”
The Event at Rebecca Farm truly is a corner of Western eventing paradise. Riders of all levels across the country hold Rebecca as “a bucket list event”, and as a self-appointed “Rebecca Virgin”, it didn’t take long to see why. In fact, I was already in love before we even drove through the entrance gates – the rolling fields of grass are like Disneyland to those of us making the 12+ hour trek from the mountain deserts.
My first impression of this truly stunning venue was that it appears to be meticulously cared for with no expense spared. Every inch of the grounds is manicured and polished with an efficient layout and tasteful design. My multi-layered sunburn may be the only negative I’ve experienced this week — although the crew here has certainly kept that in mind as well, offering multiple water stations, misting areas after cross country, and bagged ice across the grounds.
A close second to the facility’s extreme attention to detail was that as much as this event caters to the upper levels, they seem to put just as much effort into providing an equally high-class experience for riders in the lower levels. Just one walk of the cross country course shows that they hope for everyone to be included in the amazing educational experience offered here. From “Good Luck Ponies” and “Decision Dinos” to the amazing swag bags received with each rider’s packet, all riders ared taken care of and everyone feels like a part of the community.
As someone who has not yet attended any East coast events, I hope my assessment is able to accurately present an unbiased viewpoint of an event that is so vital to the Western US. Traveling here to Kalispell with my trainer and fellow riders from our barn family, I was amazed that despite the large number of competitors, the community still remains very close with everyone seemingly knowing everyone. Each class in the national divisions have at least one rider I recognize from our own Area IX events, and while going out to dinner at a local restaurant, we even ran into a rider from Utah working there as a server, as she had been up here training in the area for the last few months.
While I myself have limited in-person event experiences to offer up in comparison, I hope that my naivety may actually serve to provide an opinion similar to those like me in our sparsely-populated western regions — where a majority of this week’s competitors have traveled from. While we may, as a teammate of mine joked, give off pretty “feral vibes” by default, Rebecca is a chance for us all to get cleaned up, show off a little, and experience a taste of what those on the East coast may often take for granted.
In case you still haven’t fully grasped the beauty that this venue and event hold, just take a scroll through Rebecca Farm’s Instagram as well as tagged posts from competitors, and you’ll be blessed with some drool-worthy shots of the stunning landscape, those amazing framing mountains, some truly stunning waterscapes, and the actual dream-worthy gallop lanes through their hay fields. I’ve been a horse girl my whole life, and never have I wanted to be a horse more than this week here at these grounds. Our poor Utah horses are so confused, not only about their food actually growing out of the ground, but that they are living in the horse-equivalent of how I would feel in a room packed with charcuterie grazing tables (look it up if you don’t already know — you’ll never be the same).
One huge win for Rebecca this year was the inclusion of the event’s first ever Beginner Novice course, courtesy of the venue hosting last year’s American Eventing Championships. Over 850 entries poured in from competitors for the Beginner Novice level after opening, with only 150 riders winning the coveted “Rebecca Lottery” and receiving acceptance to the event. They say “if you build it, they will come”, and they certainly did.
Now that this event runs nearly every possible level from Beginner Novice to CCI4*-L, Rebecca is truly a gift for all. Trainers and coaches riding in the FEI levels are warming up next to junior riders wearing saddle pads in all colors of the neon rainbow, and there are 12-year-olds from Wyoming seeing Olympic riders for their first time at the ice cream food truck. Every division’s cross country course is littered with interesting and custom obstacles, not only the upper levels, so many of those at Training level will have their first opportunity to ever jump a moose or an ear of corn. Many will also have their first chance to ride in or witness a Classic Three-Day Event series, offered at the Novice and Training Levels, for which several educational opportunities and walks have already been offered this week.
Could Rebecca Broussard have ever imagined how big this would become and how much of an impact she would have on eventers from across the country? Her vision and passion have certainly been carried on through her foundations and family, who not only generously provided travel grants to 19 riders this year, but several National and International Developing Rider Grants as well to those they hope to see progressing further in the sport.
Today’s roster included the first day of dressage for some of our FEI riders. Leading both the CCI2*-L and 3*-S divisions from today is Alyssa Phillips — all the way from Ocala, Florida — aboard her own mounts Cornelius Bo (Concours Complet – Charlotte, by Carismo) and Oskar (Coriando – Nicole, by Marlo). While she and Oskar will remain in first position heading into cross country on Saturday, we still have a few remaining riders in the 2*-L tomorrow that still have the chance to contest her lead. We expect to see an excellent show from Oskar, who took last year’s silver in Rebecca Farm’s 4*-L and were champions at the Maryland International 3*-S just weeks prior.
Karen O’Neal aboard Clooney 14, owned by Annika Asling, and Tamie Smith riding Julianne Guariglia’s Crafty Don follow closely behind Alyssa in the 3*-S, with Erin Kellerhouse tying with herself for 4th place heading into the next phase.
Stay tuned in here at EN for more to come while I experience this all for the first time; I can only hope that many of our readers will be inspired to make the journey here to see it all for themselves. Tomorrow is Dressage Day for our 4* riders, and you won’t want to miss the absolutely stunning show I’ve been catching glimpses of in the warmup ring. For those watching from home, you can watch the livestream of #TheBestEventInTheWest (if that’s not already a hashtag, I’d like to propose that we make it one) for free on both Horse & Country and Ride On Video.
Good luck to everyone tomorrow and Go Eventing!
EN’s coverage of Rebecca Farm is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products. You can learn all about Kentucky Performance Products’ full line of trusted, science-backed nutritional supplements by visiting kppusa.com.