While much of the country’s attention was focused on the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day, the same weekend a just as exciting event was being held on the others side of the country. For the first time ever the Fresno County Horse Trials hosted a Novice Three-Day – part of the USEA Classic Series. The 11 horses and riders got to experience the thrill of endurance day while taking part in a series of educational activities to grow their knowledge of the long format.
Karen Burks and her own Tim Terrific scored a 29.9 in the dressage to sit a mere 0.1 behind overnight leaders, Julie White and Mind The Gap. When White accrued 4.4 penalties on Phase D it opened the door for Burks to take the win – only adding 0.8 penalties on Phase D throughout the entire three days.
Burks is an architect by day and an eventer by night and weekend – and her path followed the same story as many other adult amateurs. As a child she had a backyard horse and rode on the trails and western pleasure, but took a break from riding to go raise a family. “I started riding again after my kids went to college,” Burks explained. “I saw a friend’s daughter compete at Twin Rivers H.T. I was watching cross-country for the first time and thought ‘I have to do that!’”
With her first “solid citizen” horse, Hobbs, Burks jumped back into eventing with local one-day schooling horse trials, Adult Eventing Camp at Lone Tree Farm and culminating with her recognized eventing debut in 2013 at Fresno County Horse Park H.T. After Hobbs retired from eventing, Burks purchased Tim Terrific in 2015 and came full circle back to Fresno to win the Novice Three-Day.
Tim Terrific – also known as Teo – is a 10-year-old OTTB (Klinsman x Lady Camilla). He was bred and raced in Oregon before switching careers to eventing under Jennifer and Earl McFall. Teo competed through the one-star level before a minor injury in 2015. The McFalls decided not to bring him back to the upper levels and Burks acquired Teo.
After moving up to Novice last spring, Burks looked for a goal for 2017. “My eventing goals have always included taking part in a Three-Day competition at some level,” said Burks. “Learning about the difference between horse trials and three-day events I was intrigued with the endurance phase and the challenge of the longer format, as well as the formality of the jogs and connection with the history of the sport. I was so excited to find out Fresno was holding a Novice Three-Day, the only opportunity in Area VI this year.”
Endurance day is what clinched the win for Burks and it was also her favorite phase. “I have always loved cross-country, but the roads and tracks made that phase an even better experience. I loved the hacking warm-up of Phases A and C, and the steeplechase was the BEST, and Teo would agree. The support that is needed in the 10-minute box from one’s ‘crew’ truly made it a team effort and shared experience. I also liked the camaraderie that developed in our division as we spent time together in the meetings, clinics and roads and tracks tour - such great collection of eventers!”
Thanks to the generous sponsors of the USEA Classic Series, Burks won an engraved SmartPak halter and leadshank and will be entered for a chance to win a year of SmartPaks; online subscriptions to Eventing Training Online; USEA logowear; Fleeceworks saddle pads; and Stackhouse saddles!