May 23, 2023

Get to Know What’s Happening in Area IV in 2023

By Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff
Sundance Farm H.T. Photo courtesy of Kelly Mahloch

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.”

Catalpa Corner. Photo courtesy of Catalpa Corner Horse Park Facebook page

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.”

Ali Kuhn and Little Hail at the 2022 Area IV Championships at Otter Creek. Derith Vogt photo.

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.”

Queeny Park Team Challenge winners in 2019. Photo courtesy of Jill Wagenknecht

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.

The meeting that founded the USCTA in 1959 in Chicago. USEA Archives

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.

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