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, Area V, Area II, and Area I, the next area featured is Area IV.
The United States Eventing Association’s (USEA) Area IV is comprised of the Heartland states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Area IV Chair Jill Wagenknecht says that eventing in the Area makes up the heart of what the sport of eventing represents: community, dedication, as well as having fun.
Area IV will host 16 USEA-recognized events (including one USEA-recognized combined test) in 2023 during a concentrated season that begins with the Catalpa Corner May Madness Horse Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, on May 6 and concludes with the Windermere Run H.T in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 20-22.
“It’s your hometown events,” is how Wagenknecht describes them. “Everything kind of has a different flavor.”
There will definitely be flavor to the Area IV Championships in 2023 that will take place during the 10th edition of the Sundance Farm H.T. in Plymouth, Wisconsin from September 29 to October 1. Sundance hosted the Area IV Championships in 2020. With how big Area IV is covering eight states—the most of any USEA Area—the Championships rotate regularly and were subsequently held at the Heritage Park H.T. in Olathe, Kansas, in 2021 and at the Otter Creek Fall H.T. in Wheeler, Wisconsin, in 2022.
A Modified Championship in Area IV will be offered for the first time in 2023 with Sundance Farm adding the level. There will be several special attractions to commemorate Sundance’s 10th year of USEA-recognized horse trials and the championships.
“We give out big checks, which I think is fun, like from Happy Gilmore,” Wagenknecht said. “It will be one of those gigantic checks that will be like for $200 or something. We do have a lot of fun with that. We also do pretty good prizes for our championships. It’s a fun area.”
Sundance’s addition of Modified is part of a larger theme of expansion of levels and cross-country development in Area IV. Otter Creek, which hosts three USEA-recognized horse trials, the most annually in Area IV, will add a Modified level starting with the Otter Creek Summer H.T. in 2023. Windermere Run and Catalpa Corner added Modified in 2022.
Queeny Park in Ballwin, Missouri, introduced Modified in the first year the level was offered in 2017. This year, Queeny Park is promoting “ALL NEW XC Tracks!” on the omnibus for its Queeny Park H.T. that will coincide with the 2023 United States Pony Club Eventing Central Championships on June 10-11.
“Right now we’re moving almost all the jumps into our big cross-country field so that it will be more of a galloping course because before we started and you had to go through this little trail and out and then back,” said Wagenknecht, who is the organizer of Queeny Park. “I think it’s going to be exciting because we haven’t had it like this for a while.”
Continuing with the theme expansion in Area IV, Woodloch Stable in Hugo, Minnesota, hosted its first USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) competition in 2022 and will offer a qualifier in 2023 for YEH, as well as the USEA New Event Horse (NEH) Program in 2023. The dates will shift from July in 2022 to June in 2023.
In addition to looking to the future in Area IV, looking to the past connects Area IV back to eventing’s roots. U.S. Equestrian teams at early Olympic games were made up of members of the army, and eventing in particular was developed “to test Cavalry Officers’ chargers for their fitness and suitability,” according to Major General Jonathan R. Burton in the article “The Cavalry and the Olympics” that he wrote for the 60th anniversary special edition of the USEA’s Eventing in America magazine.
A cavalry school was located in Fort Riley, Kansas. The 1959 Pan American Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, and that’s where the famous meeting that led to the formation of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA), the predecessor to the USEA, was held.
From the USEA’s roots to its expansion to new levels, Area IV continues to be part of the “heartland” of eventing 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!