Sep 28, 2017

USEA Events A-Z: Copper Meadows Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Captured Moment Photography Photo.

Copper Meadows Horse Trials in Ramona, California (Area VI), runs three USEA recognized events a year in March, June, and September, offering Intro through Advanced level competition. In September, Copper Meadows also hosts CIC*, CIC2* and CIC3* divisions. In addition to these USEA recognized events, Copper Meadows hosts Look B4 You Leap Clinics and Sun Series One-Day Horse Trials throughout the year.

In 1999, Taren Hoffos’ parents, Robin and Carolyn Hoffos, purchased a 70-acre property on the outskirts of Ramona, California. Over the next year, the Hoffos worked tirelessly to add everything the property would need to host an event, including infrastructure, arenas, and, most importantly, a cross-country course. In 2000, Copper Meadows hosted their first USEA recognized event. According to Copper Meadows’ website, “At the inaugural event, Robin Hoffos was the announcer, Taren ran the ‘snack shack,’ and the Hoffos’ son, Drew, operated the water truck.”

“My mom grew up horse-crazy,” explained Taren. “She got her first horse at age 10 and has ridden ever since. She rode dressage for many years, and when she discovered eventing - through putting me in lessons at an eventing barn - her new dream became to own her own facility and run events.”

Captured Moment Photography Photo.

Even though the event has grown since its inception in 2000, Copper Meadows has worked hard to keep the feeling of a family-run event. “I think that our event is special because it is small and, up until recently, family run. Even though Robert [Kellerhouse] and Del Mar Eventing now put the shows on, we retain the family feel. My brother caters the competitor's dinner, my dad's band plays the party, and my mom and I ride in the show and help out as much as we can.”

Copper Meadows has a dedicated team of volunteers that help make everything happen. Chief among those supporters is Margie Davis, Copper Meadows’ volunteer coordinator. “She's been our volunteer coordinator since the beginning of time,” said Taren. “She's gotten so good at this job that she now does it for Galway Downs also. She's the most loyal Copper Meadows fan ever!”

Copper Meadows also has a great relationship with the local businesses, including Elston Hay and Grain, the local feed store. “They’ve been a sponsor since the beginning of the show, and never hesitate to donate to make the show successful. They are truly interested in seeing the show succeed.”

Unique to Copper Meadows are the giant boulders strewn around the cross-country course. Morgan Hartman Photo courtesy of Taren Hoffos.

“I think the best day of the event is the day everyone arrives,” said Taren. “The anticipation and hard work of the months before comes to a head the week of the event, and when I see the trailers pull in I am happy to see my friends in my backyard, but also feel so much pride for our beautiful facility.

Copper Meadows is a boarding and training operation in addition to an event venue. The permanent barns and office are near the front of the property by the show jumping and upper-level dressage court. Adjacent to that are additional arenas for dressage and warm-up, temporary stabling for competitors, and trailer parking. The back 40 acres of the property houses the cross-country courses for Intro through Advanced levels.

“Two signature things about our facility have to be the huge (30') eucalyptus trees planted in a row that separates the cross-country from the arenas, and the massive boulders sprinkled throughout the cross-country course. The eucalyptus were planted to create a wind barrier back when the land was used for farming. The boulders are gorgeous, and create striking views and interesting terrain - great for building cross-country jumps around!”

Tall eucalyptus trees separate the cross-country course from the arenas at Copper Meadows. Photo courtesy of Taren Hoffos.

“The cross-country course has always been one that we've considered a good move up course,” said Taren. “We're a small facility, and I think our strength is in creating a show that is a positive experience for horses and riders. We added FEI levels [in 2014] which is exciting, but I still think that our focus is rooted in being a 'low stress' type of show. The course is beautifully built, with lots of original jumps, dating from our inaugural show in 2000, built by Bert Wood. We've got three water jumps, many banks and ditches. It's a great course for schooling too!”

“We're all about a friendly, hospitable experience at Copper Meadows,” concluded Taren, and anyone who has attended an event at Copper Meadows will attest to that. “We love our facility and try very hard to make every competitor feel welcome.”

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

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