Nov 02, 2017

USEA Events A-Z: Colorado Horse Park Horse Trials

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Colorado Horse Park (CHP) in Parker, Colorado (Area IX) hosts three USEA recognized events per year. In June CHP hosts CCI*/2* and CIC2* divisions as well as horse trials, and Advanced Trials in August. CHP is also the host of the Area IX leg of the Charles Owen Technical Merit series.

Eventing at The Colorado Horse Park (CHP), formerly known as “High Prairie Farms”, began in the early 1990s with Helen Krieble’s purchase of the property. In the beginning, Krieble tasked Judith Burk to head a team and host the first High Prairie Farms Horse Trials. The team was comprised of Competition Manager, Nancy Mitchell, Course Designer, Andrew Popeil, Course Builder, Paul Popiel, Susan and Dick Farmer of Abby Ranch, Mike and Kit Strang of Strang Ranch, and several others.

A team of individuals, including Judith Burk and Nancy Mitchell, began the mission to expand competitive combined training in Colorado, and felt that it was an incredible platform for Young Riders to gain valuable experience in attempt to qualify for high caliber championship events following their graduation from the Pony Club ranks. Helen Krieble had always been an advocate of Young Rider development, which initially encouraged her to host FEI and national level eventing competitions and later the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) in 2008 at CHP. The NAJYRC later returned to CHP again in 2016.

The early days of eventing at the Colorado Horse Park. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Horse Park.

Eventing at CHP entered into a new era in 2006 as David O’Connor transformed eventing at CHP by upgrading the cross-country course and footing. At the time, O’Connor hired Deeda Randall as Competition Manager and Greg Schlappi as Course Builder. Over the next nine years, leading up to the purchase of CHP in December 2014 by Mark Bellissimo and the Colorado Equestrian Partners, CHP evolved into the premier eventing competition facility in the Rocky Mountains.

At the helm presently is Vivien VanBuren as Organizer and James Atkinson as Course Designer and Course Builder. VanBuren and Atkinson learned from Schlappi, Randall, and O’Conner over the years and continue to be catalysts for the CHP’s eventing growth.

VanBuren and Atkinson are now guided by Meg Krueger, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Michael Stone, President of The Colorado Horse Park. The facility, equipped with over 300 acres of equestrian property and leased Douglas County open space, boast seven all-weather competition arenas, as well as a cross-country competition course equipped with all of the latest in eventing safety technology through the Advanced level.

White Fence Photography Photo courtesy of the Colorado Horse Park.

CHP hosts three eventing competitions year-round. In June the venue features the annual CCI*/CCI2*/CIC2* competition welcoming riders from all over North America. The event schedule continues in August with the Advanced Horse Trials, during which CHP hosts its annual Family Festival inviting the community onto the cross-country course to experience the action live. The competitions finish in September with a compelling national level event, which featured a unique Eventing Derby for the first time in 2017.

The unrated Eventing Derby, which acted as a hybrid eventing and show jumping competition, was well received by competitors both originating from the eventing and show jumping disciplines. The Eventing Derby also offered an opportunity competitors entered in the September Horse Trials the opportunity to school specific areas of the competition course. The success of the inaugural event has solidified the Eventing Derby’s place on the CHP events calendar in 2018 and beyond.

Eventing competitors travel to Colorado to enjoy the sport, the beautiful state, and to engage in top competition. This is the foundation of CHP eventing competitions and these tying themes will continue to expand as CHP continues its upward trajectory of growth.

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

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