Area VII is missing one beloved recognized event from its calendar this year: Whidbey Island Horse Trials. The 43rd running of the Oak Harbor, Washington, event was slated to take place July 12-14 but was cancelled in the late spring. In its place the venue is offering a fun unrecognized horse trials and schooling show the same weekend to benefit the future of the horse trials.
On April 30, the event posted this announcement:
Whidbey Island Horse Trials sadly must announce that we will be unable to run a recognized Horse Trials for 2019. We have been keenly aware of the speculation surrounding the fate of the event and only held off from this decision as we worked to exhaust all our options with hope that we could offer this event in 2019….
So why has this happened? Whidbey Island Horse Trials does not own the land where the event is held and while we have a lease for about 50 acres of land, in order to run a recognized event, we must utilize adjacent farm land for stabling, dressage rings and cross country tracks and have done so since the mid-1990s under agreement with the farmers that cultivate the land. Changes in recent years to farming activities have led to us being restricted to only having use of our 50 acres and the single lane South access drive.
What about future events? We plan to run an event in 2020 as we have access to alternate property. Our long-term goal is to acquire a permanent event site and we will be looking to our eventing community’s support in our effort to raise funds that will guarantee a permanent home for Whidbey Island Horse Trials. Whidbey Island Horse Trials is the longest running event in Area VII – our first event ran in 1974. When we were forced to relocate in 1996, we also had a pause, and just like in 1997, we will be back in 2020.
We look forward to a bright future for Whidbey Island H.T. and, on behalf of the eventing community, pledge our support.
One way we can help raise funds for this long-running event’s continuation is by participating in the benefit unrecognized horse trials being held July 12-14. The weekend will offer Introductory through Preliminary horse trial divisions as well as Intermediate and Advanced combined tests, à la carte rounds of any phase, and cross country schooling on Sunday and Monday. The closing date is Friday, July 5, so get those entries in today! The entry form is available here.