The debut of a CCI4*-L division at the Twin Rivers Spring International Three-Day Event highlights a much-anticipated long weekend of high-flying eventing action. The competition takes place April 8-11, 2021 at the Baxter family's Twin Rivers Ranch in Coastal Central California's Paso Robles.
The CCI4*-L, one of only six normally held in the U.S., was originally scheduled to debut last year as the cherry atop what's become a fixture of the eventing circuit in the West. Despite last year's cancellation, entry levels are back at pre-COVID highs. "It's exciting to see the sport rebounding as a whole and there is a lot of enthusiasm about coming back," says Connie Baxter, Organizer. Since resuming events under "new normal" protocols last summer, the Twin Rivers team has ample experience staging safe competition.
Those measures prevent spectators, but there are ample opportunities to enjoy the action as a volunteer.
Based at Twin Rivers Ranch, CCI4*-L contender Bec Braitling relays that already substantial upgrades and improvements have intensified. "At Twin Rivers, it's always about the cross-country," she says of the 500-acre property's beautiful track and challenges designed for the past year by Hugh Lochore of Great Britain. "The Baxters have gone especially out of their way on the footing and there are several new fences and complexes, plus a lot of little improvements that will give it a good feel."
International dressage and the jogs will be staged in the beautiful hilltop area where show jumping takes place, adjacent to the covered collecting ring. International flags and sponsor banners contribute to an electric atmosphere surrounded by the wine country's rolling hill vineyards.
Long format divisions at the CCI2*, CCI3*, and CCI4* level run alongside short format competition at CCI3* and CCI4*, plus horse trials levels Beginner Novice through Advanced.
The McKinlaigh Cup
Prize money in the CCI4*-L division jumps to $5,000 and the winning horse will be honored with the new McKinlaigh Cup. The beautiful trophy has been donated by Thom Schulz in honor of his lovely late wife Laura Coats. Schulz and Coats owned McKinlaigh, the Irish Sport Horse who partnered with Gina Miles in 2008 Olympic individual silver. McKinlaigh was developed and lived out his retired life at the couple's Rainbow Ranch in nearby Creston. The handsome, bold horse passed away at 26 in January of 2020.
Schulz and Coats were impactful supporters of eventing, Pony Club, and other equestrian activities in the Central Coast area. The presentation of the McKinlaigh Cup at the Spring International connects that generous tradition to today's top sport.
Winners in each of the long format divisions will also receive a custom Twin Rivers jump provided by Jen and Earl McFall's Dragonfire Farm.
The Spring International is one of only six competitions in the United States to offer the CCI4*-L division. This rigorous test of the horse and rider partnership, guts, stamina, and skill is an important proving ground and preparation for international contenders.
"They are constantly upping the game here," said USEF Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander of Twin Rivers Ranch during a March 2020 visit. He described it as one of a few venues that is shifting the sport's geographic balance in the United States. "In the past it was often said that you need to go East to make it, but it's really important that riders be able to make it out here."
Twin Rivers Ranch began when the Baxter family saw 500 acres of dormant farmland and envisioned it as the perfect stage for international equestrian competition. With the Spring International, those visions materialize to the benefit of equestrians and fans throughout the West Coast. Remarkably, Twin Rivers' growth and national prominence has not come at the expense of the welcoming, family vibe that has distinguished it from the get-go.
The family's continual focus on upgrades includes new permanent stabling this year. Fully-covered permanent stabling with 36 12' x 12' stalls are first offered to Twin Rivers Ranch members. Year-round supporting Ranch members also receive unlimited access to all open facilities – for two horses with the same owner. Members are exempt from non-member fees at all schooling shows, and family members and/or additional horses can be added at a modest cost.
The Spring International anchors an exciting year of competition at Twin Rivers Ranch. The Fall International in September is a happy host of the Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge and the 2021 season finalé is another prestigious calendar highlight: The USEA Future Event Horse and Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships. These two West Coast championships were staged together for the first time last year by the Twin Rivers team, receiving high praise from all involved.
Learn more at www.twinrivershorsepark.com.
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