Aug 17, 2017

USEA Events A-Z: Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Photo courtesy of Catalpa Corner Horse Park Facebook page.

The Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials is held once a year on the first weekend in August in Iowa City, Iowa (Area IV) and offers Beginner Novice through Preliminary divisions.

In 2007, Dr. Jim McNutt and Susan Brigham founded the Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials in loving memory of the late Dr. Tom Brigham and Susan’s teenaged son, Madison Brigham, who was killed in a car accident. Madison was an avid rider and fox hunter as well as a farmer, historian, tennis player, and musician. According to the tribute in Catalpa Corner’s program, “Being with the quiet but fire-hearted Madison was a delight to all who took the time to know this brilliant and gentle young man.”

“They built the park kind of like “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, they will come,” and the event has been growing ever since,” said Ali Hayford, organizer of the Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials.

The event takes place at Catalpa Corner Horse Park, a small private facility owned by Brigham and McNutt. When not being used to host an event, the Horse Park is made up of mostly hay fields surrounded by soybean and corn fields, with woods to the south and several water crossings on the property. “The family keeps investing in the park to provide opportunities for riders in the Midwest. Although they do not run it anymore, they can always be found on the property enjoying the event,” said Hayford.

Photo courtesy of Catalpa Corner Horse Park Facebook page.

The park has three permanent barns on site, with the remaining stabling provided by temporary stables brought in for the event. The dressage and show jumping arenas are all on grass footing, and all the show jumps are Harry Potter themed, painted by the park owner and a local professional. The cross-country jumps are all designed to represent Iowa, with wood animal carvings, red and white barns, and even a chicken coop jump! “Susan is meticulous on decorating the show grounds each year,” said Hayford. “The family wanted it to be professional but yet fit the Iowa countryside.”

An incredibly dedicated group of people are the driving force behind the Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials. In addition to Brigham and McNutt, there is a core group of people who all work tirelessly in memory of Madison to put on an event that competitors return to year after year.

“Paul Welsh has been integral in this park becoming what it is today,” said Hayford. “Paul works daily on the property doing everything from building jumps, to fixing anything and everything, to raking hay. He traveled to multiple different shows to learn the requirements of how to build a horse park. From there he built steps, a water complex, banks, and many, many jumps.”

Photo courtesy of Catalpa Corner Horse Park Facebook page.

Camie and Jay Stockhausen have also been long-time friends and supporters of the Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials. They had both fox hunted with Madison and were crucial to getting things started when the time came to build the park. “They have actively supported the show each year as well as run schooling shows and clinics at the park,” said Hayford. Jay serves as the cross-country warm-up steward at the Horse Trial, in addition to helping with cross-country jump judges and preparing the course for both recognized events and schooling shows. Camie is the event’s show jumping course designer.

Steve Wildman, another long-time friend of the family, helps with repairs at the farm, and also cuts and bales the hay which grows year-round on the areas of the property that serve as the cross-country course.

Hayford herself has also been involved since the beginning. “I started as a friend of the family and got involved in the event wherever I was needed. As time went on, my job was to be the "Eraser," or the person that made issues during the event go away so our competitors would not notice any hiccups.” When the time came that Brigham and McNutt decided to step away from running the event, it looked as though the recognized event would not continue, but with their support, Hayford stepped up and took over organizing the event. Her favorite part of the event is seeing the smiles on the competitors’ faces.

“The family loves seeing the same people come back and new people sign up each year,” commented Hayford. “[We see] riders who move up the levels and others that continue to improve each year. This is an event that was designed out of love for [Madison] and [we know] his presence is always watching over the riders.”

Want to see the Catalpa Corner Charity Horse Trials cross-country course from the rider's perspective? Check out Shelley Remensnyder's helmet cam video aboard Platinum Rhapsody from the Preliminary in August.

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A­-Z series.

Jun 29, 2022 Eventing News

USEA President Max Corcoran Appointed USEF Eventing Elite Program and Team Facilitator

On May 1, 2022, Max Corcoran was appointed as the Eventing Elite Program and Team Facilitator. In her role, Corcoran will support the areas of communication, logistics, and management of the teams for the Eventing Programs to deliver sustained success at World and Olympic Games level. As the Facilitator, she will work closely with the interim Chef d’Equipe/Team Manager, Bobby Costello, and eventing staff to build solid lines of communication with athletes, grooms, owners, coaches, veterinarians, and all stakeholders linked to the athletes and develop the structures around the Elite Program and senior U.S. Eventing Team.

Jun 29, 2022 Education

A Case for Warming Up (and How to Do It Correctly) with Kyle Carter

Imagine: you are at the biggest sporting event of your life. The stakes are high, and you have spent countless hours preparing for it. However, you are expected to just show up and immediately perform. You cannot stretch or take a practice swing. You have no time to loosen up or sharpen your eye. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Just like us, our horses need adequate time to warm up each day. A warmup is any preparation for work, and it is often the leading edge of that work. It is the small aid response that becomes the more advanced aid response.

Jun 28, 2022 Hall of Fame

Newest Invitation to USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame Extended to Trish Gilbert

This year a new class will be joining the 47 eventing legends currently in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded within the sport of eventing in the United States. Those invited to join the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame have truly made a difference in the sport of eventing. Hall of Fame members have included past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founding fathers, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, and coaches

Jun 28, 2022 Rules

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Training and Modified Level?

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA