The Five Points Horse Trials are held yearly on the first weekend in September at the Carolina Horse Park (CHP) in Raeford, North Carolina (Area II) and this year will be offering Beginner Novice through Advanced horse trials and combined test divisions and USEA Young, Future, and New Event Horse classes.
When the Longleaf Pine Horse Trials moved to the Carolina Horse Park in April of 2000 and the Southern Pines Horse Trials followed suit in March of 2001, moving to the Horse Park from the Walthour-Moss Foundation Preserve, the management at the Carolina Horse Park decided it was time to add a fall event to the schedule to balance out the spring calendar. So, the first Five Points Horse Trials was held at the Carolina Horse Park in late September of 2001, offering Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary levels.
“As the Park continued to grow, we knew we needed an event for the fall so around 2001 the Five Points Horse Trials came to be,” shared Lefreda Williams, a founding director of the Carolina Horse Park. “The Park opened in 1998 so we had a few years under our belt before adding Five Points and it’s been running ever since.”
Three years later, the Carolina Horse Park won the bid to host the first-ever national eventing championships, the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC). The contract lasted three years, and so in 2004, 2005, and 2006, the Five Points Horse Trials gave up their spot on the calendar for the AEC. “Lefreda Williams and Gwen Parkins were big time with getting the AEC to the CHP,” said Shannon Habenicht, Development Manager at the Carolina Horse Park. “They got a note about the USEA wanting to host a national championships and Lefreda, Gwen, and the Park ‘gave birth’ to the AEC.”
The Five Points Horse Trials resumed in 2007, moving up the calendar from their original late-September date to a mid-September date. By 2010, they had settled on the first weekend in September. In 2013, Five Points added the USEA Future and Young Event Horse classes to their offering, and in 2018 was one of the first events in the United States to offer the Modified level. “That is something the Park really looks forward to as we are very supportive of educating the next generation of competitors – riders and horses,” said Habenicht.
Named for the intersection of Calloway Road, Montrose Road, and Horace Walters Road near the Park’s entrance, the Five Points Horse Trials now offers every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced, including Modified, and offers USEA Young, Future, and New Event Horse classes as well.
The Carolina Horse Park itself has grown from the original 125 acres purchased in 1998 to a 315-acre, nationally recognized, premiere equine competition venue. “The Park is dedicated to the preservation of open space for equestrian and recreational purposes,” said Habenicht. “CHP is one of the only equestrian facilities in the mid-Atlantic region with multi-disciplined capabilities suitable for championship level equine competitions. In addition, it hosts other agricultural events and fun outdoor activities.”
Marc Donovan, Carolina Horse Park’s Program Director and Event Organizer, designs all the show jumping courses for all levels at Five Points. Hugh Lochore is the cross-country course designer for Advanced and Intermediate, and Beth Perkins designs the courses for Preliminary down to Beginner Novice. Plus, the Carolina Horse Park has a strong and dedicated group of volunteers that make the events possible. “All CHP events rely heavily on our corps of volunteers to make each event a success,” Habenicht said. “From jump judging to scribing to manning the equine cross-country walkways, our volunteers are the best around. Our staff works endlessly to make sure all the current health protocols and safety requirements are met for horses and riders. This years’ event is sponsored by Foundation Equine Clinic which is based in Southern Pines.”
“The Five Points Horse Trial is usually the Park’s only USEF/USEA recognized event in the fall,” Habenicht said. “This year that’s slightly altered due to COVID-19. We run an annual unrecognized series called the War Horse Event Series and for 2020 we were able to also run recognized divisions to assist with people gaining the qualifying scores that they need for end-of-year awards and championships. During a regular year, Five Points would be our only recognized fall event.”
“It’s similar to our other events – fair but challenging courses, good terrain, great competition,” Williams concluded. “The event was, and still is, staffed by volunteers and everyone helps where needed.”
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