Note: Throughout 2023, the United States Eventing Association will be putting the spotlight on each area and sharing how they will uniquely contribute to the growth of the sport of eventing. After starting the series with Area X, Area III, Area VI, and Area V, the next area featured is Area II.
The United States Eventing Association’s (USEA) Area II plays a big role in the past, present, and future of eventing. From north to south, the Area covers the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. That includes a number of eventing hubs—Northern Virginia; Fair Hill, Maryland; Tryon, North Carolina; Unionville, Pennsylvania; and more.
In terms of the past, the first headquarters of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA), the predecessor to the United States Eventing Association (USEA), was founded at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia, in 1959. After a period of incorporation in Massachusetts, the USEA’s headquarters returned to Leesburg in 1994.
In terms of the present, Area II has the largest membership in USEA with 2,380 members as of April 2023, representing 24 percent. The newest CCI5*-L takes place at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill with its third renewal scheduled for 2023. That event is also the site of The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships.
In addition, the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina, stepped up on short notice to host the USEF CCI4*-L National Championship in 2020 and is doing so again with the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships in 2023.
“That’s been where we have played an important role in the growth of the sport,” Molly Oakman, the Director of Equestrian Operations at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, said about being on call to host major events. She reflected on both championships, “It’s a great way to help grow the sport and support both the top-level riders and the future of the sport.”
In terms of the future, Area II continues to add new competitions. The Maryland International + Horse Trials (Adamstown, Maryland) will run a CCI4*-S for the first time in 2023.
“Ian Stark has designed an educational course,” said organizer Carolyn Mackintosh, who has run events at Loch Moy Farm since 2006. “We’re going to be ready to go for the four-star, and we’re going to have enhanced hospitality and sponsorship for it.”
To help grow eventing from a grassroots level, the Maryland International Equestrian Foundation Scholarship will, for the first time in 2023, award four $1,000 scholarships to riders competing at CCI1*-S, CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI4*-S at the Maryland International.
“Carolyn is incredibly motivated and has built up a superb facility,” said Chris Ryan, who has made many visits from Ireland to Area II to serve as a judge and commentator. “Great all-weather surfaces for the flat work and showjumping, and she uses the uphill terrain to great effect on her cross-country courses. I could compare the track to Strzegom in Poland, which hosted the European Championships in 2017 and where Marcin Konarski has also hosted the European Pony Championships the last two years. Carolyn is a great supporter of the ‘young horse’ and has a separate schooling ground laid out for them.”
Loch Moy Farm also hosts Cross Derby events with cross-country fences from cross-rails to Modified levels placed in arenas—an adaptation for eventing to take place during winter months.
“I like that we never close because my nine acres of rings—I went to Aston Le Walls in the U.K. and saw what they did for their winter schooling—so I put in ditches, banks, water, all kinds of stuff,” Mackintosh said. “So, we run cross-country schooling there starting in November all the way through March. And then, we do these great cross derbies that everyone is so excited about where we put about 100 jumps in the rings.”
There are a total of 55 USEA-recognized events scheduled in Area II in 2023. They cover a wide range of what the sport has to offer. There’s the family-run Full Moon Farms H.T. (Finksburg, Maryland) by the Fulton family. There’s the volunteer-run Marlborough H.T. (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) that takes place at Rosaryville State Park offering levels from Starter through Training. Pony Clubs run two events for both the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club H.T. (Leesburg, Virginia) and Seneca Valley Pony Club H.T. (Poolesville, Maryland).
“What’s really great about Area II is that it’s very focused on grassroots eventing, so there’s a pipeline of new riders all the time” Morgan Rowsell, who serves on the Area II Council and is also a cross-country course designer, said, while referencing events like Waredaca (Gaithersburg, Maryland), Flora Lea (Medford, New Jersey), Olney Farm (Joppa, Maryland), and more. “Ultimately, that makes the experience for someone who is just trying the sport out, whether it be an amateur or a little kid, it really gives a positive experience for grassroots eventing.”
In addition to the grassroots, there are some of the most prestigious events in the United States, scheduled for 2023 in Area II, such as the CCI5*-L at Fair Hill on Oct. 18-22 , the CCI4*-L at the Tryon International Three-Day Event on May 10-14 and at the Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials on Oct. 12-15. That represents two of the five CCI4*-L in the country, more than any other Area hosts.
It’s not just the events but also the venues in Area II that are particularly conducive to eventing of the highest quality.
“If you’re starting your young international horse at Plantation or Fair Hill or Jersey or wherever, they all have enough terrain and enough space to constantly be giving the horses the confidence to run on good grass, the confidence to get in good shape,” Rowsell said. “And, to be competing against Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin and Buck Davidson, you get the competition in Area II.”
Area II combines eventing history and evolution and provides valuable glimpses into the past and future of the sport in the United States.
As they hiked through the Galway Irish countryside, Shelley Bridges and John Whelpley soon found themselves amid a herd of curious Irish Draught mares grazing calmly around them. Bridges, an endurance rider extraordinaire with a well-known, educated eye for all things horse, noticed one of the mares in particular and said, “What about that one?” and our unlikely story began.
With the holiday spirit in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the 2024 eventing season. From paperwork to packing, there’s quite a bit to do before you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season with your horse. Check out these tips from the team at STRIDER, and get your 2024 season kicked off in the most organized way possible.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce the Eventing Pathway Program Lists for 2024, including the Elite, Pre-Elite, Development, and Emerging Programs. In addition to these Eventing Pathway Program updates, several opportunities will be available in 2024 for both Program and non-Program athletes.
The United States Eventing Associations’ (USEA) Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) is pleased to announce the dates and location of the upcoming 2024 ECP Symposium. The annual ECP Symposium, which is held in the southeast to accommodate the migration of eventers for the winter season, will be hosted at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, on Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2024. This three-day immersive educational experience is recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about eventing coaching, including current coaches, riders, parents, owners or avid supporters. Click here to download the registration form today!