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.
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.
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.
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.
In a recent public statement made by the La Mondial du Lion Organizing Committee, they confirmed their intent to host the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses this year on October 15-18, 2020 in Le Lion d ’Angers, France. With events starting back up and the Championships set on the calendar, the race to Le Lion is still on!
The 2020 show season has looked a bit different than any of us anticipated, and for many people season-planning was placed on hold. In an episode that was recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicole Brown and Diarm Byrne welcome international five-star eventer Will Coleman and British high performance veterinarian Spike "The Vet" Milligan to the show to discuss some of the considerations for planning your season from each of their unique perspectives.
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