The Indiana Eventing Association (IEA) Horse Trials take place once a year in early June at Hoosier Horse Park (HHP) in Edinburgh, Indianan (Area VIII) offering Starter through Intermediate/Preliminary levels and USEA Classic Series Novice and Training Three-Day divisions. The cross-country course is open year-round for schooling and the Horse Park hosts schooling shows, combined tests, breed shows, rodeos, barrel racing, Pony Club rallies, and combined driving events.
Camp Atterbury was established in 1941 on 40,000 acres just west of Edinburgh, Indiana as a military and civilian training base to prepare troops and medical personnel for World War II. From 1943 to 1946, a portion of the camp also housed some 15,000 Italian and German prisoners of war.
When the U.S. Army discontinued use of Camp Atterbury in 1968, the Indiana National Guard assumed responsibility for the land. While much of the camp is still active today as a training base, 622 acres were donated to Johnson County and became Johnson County Park. In 1987, 200 of those acres were developed from the ground up to host the 1987 Pan American Games and Hoosier Horse Park was born.
Following the 1987 Pan American Games, the Indiana Combined Training Association (now IEA) was formed to transform the cross-country course into something that could be used for future Horse Trials. Hoosier Horse Park hosted a combined test in 1988 and the first Horse Trials took place in 1989, offering up through Training level. “One of our early fences was the Guard House Gate, a vertical attached to one of the original Guard Houses [from the POW camp],” said Lee Ann Zobbe, who has worked with the event since the very beginning.
The course continued to develop, with a Preliminary track debuting in 1992 and the Starter level first being offered in 2003. IEA added a USEA Classic Series Training Three-Day in 2009 and added the Novice Three-Day the following year.
The facilities at Hoosier Horse Park feature a large covered arena, three dedicated dressage arenas, two show jumping arenas, and 384 permanent stalls in addition to RV hookups. The cross-country course, originally built by Paul Popiel and designed by Les Smith and currently designed by Jonathan Wells, is complete with two water jumps and the bank complex originally constructed for the Pan American Games. “It's mainly flat and runs through a mix of open prairie, woods, and scrub,” described Zobbe of IEA’s ever-evolving and developing cross-country course. “We've removed a lot of invasive plants and in doing so opened up a whole new area that is very useful.”
Over the last 30 years of events at Hoosier Horse Park, Zobbe said that, “[it’s] most definitely the people” that have made the event special. “We are so lucky to have such a good group of people that step up to keep this event one of the friendliest and best events in Area VIII.”
Like all events with a long history, there are innumerable people who have contributed to the event’s success over the years. “In the early days Julie Young, Ann Meier Griffin, Mike and Rhonda Winter, Linda and Nick Heiny, Danette and Larry Morgan, Celia and Andy Jackson, Jackie and Steve Brown, and the Pfaffs were all were very hands-on and instrumental in getting things going and building comradery,” recalled Zobbe. “I can remember work days as we bushwhacked paths through the scrub; I don’t think anyone escaped getting poison ivy!” Danette and Larry Morgan also spearheaded a second event run at Hoosier Horse Park called the Benefit Horse Trials that was created to raise money to build additional cross-country jumps and continue expanding the cross-country courses.
“More recently I'd have to say that Dan Stickney and Jon Wells have been the biggest supporters of the event,” continued Zobbe. “Dan has been showing up for the week prior to the event for years to set up; he wears an amazing variety of hats and has a cheerful word for everyone. Jon Wells came on as course designer and builder when Les retired from doing it and he's had a vision for what the courses can be and has been one of our biggest supporters, donating a huge chunk of his time when we built the new water jump. His clarity of purpose and attention to detail on the cross-country have kept us moving forward and being ever better.”
Currently organized by Mary Fike, the IEA Horse Trials have seen a few faces at the helm over the years. “Robin Thomas acted as organizer,” said Zobbe, “and Mary Tinder was the organizer for a number of years and has served in several capacities since that time, most lately as Safety Chair. Trudy Pulley has helped pull things together behind the scenes and Dorie Mayfield has been amazing at getting volunteers. There are so many people that have given of themselves to keep this event a labor of love that I can't even name all of them!
“I've been involved with the HHP and IEA from its inception (sometimes more and sometimes less) and for me, it is a source of pride every year to see some improvement somewhere,” Zobbe shared. “It's always exciting to see new tracks being used and it is really fun to see people excited about coming to ride at our Horse Trials.”
“Please come – we would love to have you! We have a super bunch of people that are always welcoming.”
The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A-Z series.
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