Mar 08, 2018

USEA Events A-Z: Feather Creek Farm Horse Trials

By Dynah Korhummel - Feather Creek Farm
John's Decoy" - one of 83 jumps built by John Staples for Feather Creek Farm's first USEA recognized event. Suzy Brown/Equine Originals Photo courtesy of Feather Creek Farm.

Feather Creek Farm in Norman, Oklahoma (Area V) hosts two USEA recognized events in June and September, offering Introductory through Preliminary levels. At their June event they also host divisions for the Future Event Horse and Young Event Horse. Feather Creek Farm offers boarding and training services all year as well as cross-country schooling, combined tests, and unrecognized events.

Feather was the name I gave my rambunctious white kitten whose only spot of color was her grey tail. Unfortunately, Feather was born with a heart murmur and other internal defects. Barely weighing three pounds, she survived 18 months but never lost her persevering and courageous personality. Feather had more spirit than anyone I’ve ever met. I figured it would take just about all her traits to acquire and restore the 100-acre farm I purchased in 2008, so I named the farm Feather Creek Farm after my ferocious little tiger.

I’m a native of Montreal and have been riding since age five and eventing since age 12. I studied economics, then spent 13 years in California, both competing in horse trials up to the Advanced level and launching a veterinary division for a Berkeley sports medicine company. It was an eight-day-a-week job, with a lot of travel, and I dreamed of settling down on a small property with a cross-country course in my backyard. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! During a Quarter Horse Congress, a friend told me of Tipasa, a 100-acre farm situated seven miles northeast of Norman, Oklahoma that Judy and Mike Huber had built from scratch 30 years ago.

Photo courtesy of the Feather Creek Farm Facebook page.

Under a subsequent owner, though, the property had been neglected. It was overgrown with trees and bushes and the jumps had deteriorated. The minute I stepped onto the property, I knew it was for me, and it became a mission to restore the farm. It took three years of negotiations with the owner, and in January 2008, the sale was closed. 

Then the work started to get Feather Creek Farm ready to host its first USEA recognized horse trials. It began with a lot of brush clearing and land preparation. I phoned John Staples of Windermere Stables, a veteran eventer and USEA Level III instructor from Wichita, Kansas, to design our cross-country course.

Photo courtesy of the Feather Creek Farm Facebook page.

John doesn’t always answer his phone, but he did on this occasion. I always joked with him that he was probably sorry he picked up that day because of all the work that we needed to get done! When the USEA approved our first date of August 29-30, 2009, the clock started ticking. With just 33 days before the event, John built 83 fences from Starter through Preliminary level.

About 10 days out from the start of the event I started peeping my head around the corner of the work barn, asking where we were with respect to the number of jumps we needed to finish. After a couple days of this, John looked up and said, “Stop! We’ll make it!” I obviously didn’t do that again!

One of the best fences was the duck fence down at the pond. John carved the duck head and it definitely became a signature fence. The last two jumps were completed on the morning of August 29. Sheila Strickler and Ana Schravesande served as the President of the Ground Jury and Technical Delegate and as soon as they arrived they helped finish numbering and flagging the jumps. I was lucky to have those two as the officials for my first event! Needless to say, our first horse trials at Feather Creek went off like a charm, thanks to everyone’s incredibly hard work.

Photo courtesy of the Feather Creek Farm Facebook page.

Adri Doyal has been working on the course for the last few years, and with her expertise and creativity for cross-country the course continues to be a big galloping ride, with some extraordinary fences, big bold questions, and friendly profiles.

Nearly 10 years later, I’m still running Feather Creek Horse Trials and next year I will host my 20th event. It’s been an incredible experience, some good, some bad, but it’s all about perseverance. This sport is all about that. Never give up and always keep kicking!

Perseverance is a cardinal rule, and I found it again when I first bought the farm in a little mixed-terrier puppy of limitless personality that adopted me and refused to take no for an answer. I decided I needed another mascot, and of course I had to name the puppy Feather.

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

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