Dec 16, 2015

The Ins and Outs of Hosting Successful Future and Young Event Horse Competitions

K.C. Cowels and Miss Carlisle at a YEH Competition in 2009. USEA/Josh Walker Photo.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA.

K.C. Cowles is the Eventing trainer at Greystone Farm located in Brookeville, Maryland where she specializes in training young horses and teaching a wide variety of students. Greystone Farm is home to two of the qualifying competitions on the East Coast for the Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs. Cowles became interested in the program when she bought her now CCI1* horse, Miss Carlisle, as a 3-year-old. Cowles believed that the program was a major contributing factor in Miss Carlisle making her way up the levels as successfully as she has, which prompted her to want to offer one of these competitions at her own farm. She is now the organizer of these FEH and YEH competitions that take place each May and October.

The facility at Greystone Farm offers a quiet environment where horses just beginning their Eventing career can come to compete in a very low-key atmosphere. Cowles explains, “I only have 30 acres so I can’t offer a full horse trials at my farm, which keeps the activity down for the young horses. I’ve chosen to build cross-country jumps that are inviting and friendly. My major goal is for horses that come to my competition leave more confident than when they came and are ready to take on the next challenge.”

There are many unique aspects that go into designing the jump courses for a Young Event Horse competition that don’t necessarily come into play when designing a course for any other type of show. “We have coops, large natural logs, roll tops and we even put wings on the ditches so that they horses can be channeled a bit better. I also specifically placed my ditch and bank question going towards home. I don’t decorate the jumps besides adding a bit of mulch for a ground line. I’ve talked to many trainers that have come to compete here and they really appreciate that aspect. The horses just focus on the jumps, there aren’t any decorations there to distract them away from their job,” Cowles describes.

When it comes to the Future Event Horse competition Cowles mentioned that she is prepared for yearlings and 2-year-olds to be a bit overwhelmed. Because of this, she allows their handlers to walk them around her indoor arena before the competition starts to allow them to get acclimated with the new environment. Cowles continues, “I don’t have a loud speaker and don’t even allow dogs anywhere near the show arena. I want to create as quiet of an environment as possible. Most of the horses that compete in the FEH division have been off the property maybe once prior to this competition so it can get a bit a wild especially with the colts and fillies being in the same vicinity! I try to rule out as many outside factors that I can so the babies can focus as best they can.”

When it comes to organizing and running a Future and Young Event Horse competition, Cowles offers respectable advice for future organizers. “Keep it simple, keep it quiet and if you’re not a young horse trainer make sure to speak to riders and trainers who deal with young horses in Eventing. When it comes to decorations and types of jumps that you choose, keep the young horses in mind. The more you can keep the extras to a minimum the better the horses seem to do.”

To learn more about K.C. Cowles and Greystone Farm, please visit their website at www.greystonefarm.com

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