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Thu, 2018-04-12 08:19

USEA Events A-Z: Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club Horse Trials

Brant Gamma Photo.

The Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club Horse Trials in Geneseo, New York (Area I) hosts two events each year in early June and late August. The June horse trials is a one-day event that offers Introductory through Training/Novice levels, and the August horse trials is held over two days and offers Beginner Novice through Preliminary levels, including the new Modified level, as well as Young Event Horse (YEH), Future Event Horse (FEH), and New Event Horse (NEH) divisions.

The Genesee Valley Riding (Driving was subsequently added in 2000) Club was reactivated in 1989 after a 10-year hiatus with the intent of organizing a recognized event in western New York. The Genesee Valley Hunt (GVH), one of the oldest in the country still hunting its original territory, enjoys lush open stretches ensuring a strong depth of breeding and horse sports since early in our nation's history and has hosted a USCTA/USEA registered event since the 1950s. The "new" GVRC event was launched June 2-3, 1990 and offered Novice through Preliminary levels.

With generous support from the GVH and the Wadsworth family, the GVRC was able to use the Roger Haller/Chris Milanesi designed GVH courses already established at Nations Road. Excellent turf and outstanding visibility were advantages and show jumping was held in the natural amphitheater there. Dressage and stabling were located just around the corner at White Devon Farm.


Jean Kiefer-Wood and Liffey Star at the GVRDC Horse Trials in 2017. Brant Gamma Photo.

The first first two events were organized by local upper-level event riders Darren Chiacchia and Carol Kozlowski, who felt there was a gap in the Area I calendar early in the season. As a "new" event, Ray Denis was assigned to the competition as the Technical Delegate, establishing a long association and friendship that continues to this day. 

After two successful years, the Club decided to move the competition a mile up the road to the well-known and historically significant Hideaway Farm. Internationally known for its early national eventing competitions held in the 1960s, Hideaway Farm also had a world-class Connemara breeding program and was to claim the stallion "Hideaway's Erin Go Bragh" as one of its most famous eventing progenies.

In 1992, Pat Richardson took over as Organizer and Carol and Darren were relieved to return to the easier side of participating in an event! Tremaine Cooper designed the new cross-country tracks at Hideaway Farm and on neighboring land, with all three phases and stabling held on site and permanent stabling already built, adding convenience for out-of-town competitors. Hideaway Farm has sand areas for dressage, a large turf area for show jumping, permanent stabling for 48 horses with temporary stabling used as needed, and a large and convenient trailer parking area.


GVRDC Organizing Committee and Secretary (from left to right): Ray Denis, Liz Johnson, Katherine Cooper and Carol Kozlowski. Brant Gamma Photo.

Capricious spring weather made preparing for and sometimes even holding the June event difficult and in 2007 the two-day event was moved to September. Martha Varney served briefly as Organizer before Wezo Pierson took the reins in 2008. Recognizing the need for another early season competition, the club added the one-day June event back to the calendar in 2005, running only Introductory through Training/Novice. Even today, preparation remains challenging when Mother Nature decides on a wet spring. 

The Club puts forth a mighty effort to host the two events held in early June and late August. GRVDC proudly hosted the Area I Championships from 2014 through 2016, and many riders from out of the area made the trip and discovered the beautiful courses and hospitality the GVRDC has made their standard. When Wezo Pierson stepped down as Organizer of both events in 2015, GVRDC president Carol Kozlowski invited long-time friend Ray Denis to join her Organizing committee and Liz Johnson became the August event secretary. Carol now organizes the June event with Lori Elrod capably handling the duties of secretary. John Williams designed cross-country courses for several years and now Jeff Kibbie designs all the courses for both events. Club member David Chugg has assumed the groundskeeper responsibilities and puts in countless hours preparing the rings and the cross-country tracks.

Cross-country makes use of large property with ample room to run and jump with oderate changes in terrain and beautifully designed courses. The gifting of several portable cross-country jumps from Stuart Horse Trials two years ago has made for some interesting additions to each level. Footing is taken very seriously with multiple mowings and aerations to ensure the best going possible.


Troy Wing riding G Easter Bay at the 2017 GVRDC Horse Trials. Brant Gamma Photo.

The event is special in that everyone associated with the event works hard to make the outing the best possible experience for all involved. Our extraordinary volunteer pool AND friendly officials, staff, and Organizers are all committed to running a quality competition. It's also very special that, after 26 years, the GVRDC event continues to run at Hideaway Farm with great continued support from the Harris family and neighboring landowners who kindly allow access to their properties. As privately-owned farm hosted events dwindle in the sport of eventing, GVRDC is proud to maintain its roots in the heart of the Genesee Valley.

What everyone at GVRDC looks forward to is the product that is put forward the weekends of the events. Our strong group of dedicated volunteers really appreciate knowing they've put on a good event, where everything looks attractive and inviting. The view of the rings, show jumping courses, and cross-country tracks and then witnessing riders and horses out doing what they like to do makes it all special for everyone involved.

We want people to know that is that our event is well worth the trip. Just south of Rochester, New York, GVRDC events are easily traveled to by interstate from all directions in the Northeast. We typically see riders from Area II and Area VIII joining us as well. The hospitality and friendliness of everyone involved is just the icing on the cake! 

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A-Z series.

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