Jan 24, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: MeadowCreek Park Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Lauren Lambert and Cooley Renaissance Man at the MeadowCreek Park Horse Trials. Cosmo Flores-Kinney/Horse Show Paparazzi Photo.

MeadowCreek Park in Kosse, Texas (Area V) hosts two USEA recognized events in March and September, offering Starter through Intermediate/Preliminary levels at both events and an Intercollegiate Team Challenge and FEH/YEH divisions at their spring event.

Sam and Jodye Lindsey founded MeadowCreek Park on 100 acres just outside the small central Texas town of Kosse in 1991. Alyce Hinkle, who was a prominent figure in Area V for many years, was instrumental in the development of MeadowCreek into an eventing venue. With Hinkle’s help and support, the Lindseys hosted the very first MeadowCreek Horse Trials in June of 1992, offering Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training level horse trial divisions and a Preliminary combined test. After 30 successful years of running the MeadowCreek Park Horse Trials, the Lindseys sold the farm to Robbie and Brad Peterson.

Robbie grew up riding in rodeos all through high school and college, and while she was attending Texas A&M University she took her dog to a vet where there were pictures on the wall of a horse jumping into the Head of the Lake at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The rider was veterinarian Janet Marden on her 17-year-old Thoroughbred/Pinto gelding, Dancin’ Cowboy (Mr. Yam x Pedigrenia), who finished in sixth place at the 1991 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, that looks like the coolest thing ever,’” Robbie recalled, “and Janet walked out to call me and my dog back and she said, ‘Well, do you want to come take a lesson? You can ride him,’ and pointed at the photo on the wall. So, the very first jump lesson I ever took in my life was on Spot, which was Dancin’ Cowboy’s barn name – a Rolex horse – and I was just completely hooked!”

Shannon Boggan Photo courtesy of Robbie Peterson.

Robbie began eventing and never looked back, traveling to events with Marden, who became her mentor and guide in the eventing world. “It’s all Janet’s fault, and I tell her that all the time,” Robbie said with a laugh. “She’s still a very dear friend today.” In fact, MeadowCreek Park was one of the first events Robbie ever attended, and now she has become the organizer one of the very first events she ever experienced.

One of the things that drew Robbie to eventing was the incredible community. “Back when I started eventing, there was just such a social aspect of the sport,” she observed. “Everyone was hanging out, it was always fun to go to the competitors' party and hang out. As the sport evolved, it started getting really compartmentalized and people started fracturing off into their own little groups.”

“When I bought MeadowCreek, I of course wanted to keep the name because the event was so established and had such a strong following, but that’s when I changed the name to the Spring Social Event and the Fall Social Event,” Robbie continued. “I wanted to promote the social aspect of the sport again and start bringing everybody back to the camaraderie. Everyone that knows me knows what a social butterfly I am and how much I enjoy a good party, so nobody was surprised by the route I took!”

Cosmo Flores-Kinney/Horse Show Paparazzi Photo.

“As a new organizer, I had the typical vertical learning curve, and the first officials that came in for me were Seema Sonnad and Cathy Slaterbeck,” Robbie recalled. “They were amazing. They taught me so much and were patient, fantastic mentors. All of the officials that have worked for me have been incredible. Jim Graham, Helmut Boheme, Doug Payne, and Cindy Deporter, to name a few, have all contributed greatly to the event and to my knowledge base.”

The Petersons keep MeadowCreek Farm open year-round for schooling, clinics, and camps. The property boasts 180 permanent stalls in ranch-style barns with open fronts that offer good ventilation and visibility for the horses. They also have 50 RV hookups, a great benefit considering the rural location of the farm and limited access to hotels. “We also have a bunkhouse up above one of the barns that has a bunch of twin beds in it,” Robbie said. “Camp groups can come in and rent that and they can all stay on grounds and have a true camp experience.”

Shannon Boggan Photo courtesy of Robbie Peterson.

The farm’s cross-country course has fences ranging from the Starter to Preliminary level that run over fairly flat terrain, making for friendly courses for the first-time eventer or a rider looking to move up to the next level. “Our tracks are very straight forward,” Robbie stated. “It makes us a nice early season run, and typically a good move-up course. The flat terrain allows us to ask technical questions in a very friendly and forgiving manner. Our course designer, Carsten Meyer, has done a great job designing courses that make the most of what the ground has to offer.”

MeadowCreek Farm also hosts the Texas A&M Eventing Team, which is less than an hour away from the farm. “They came to me a couple years ago when they were organizing their intercollegiate team and I’m an Aggie, so I naturally said, ‘Absolutely yes, come on over!’ So they come and school anytime they want – we have a sponsorship agreement worked out with them where they don’t pay to school – and then any time they want to bring in one of the trainers they work with, or if I’ve got someone coming in that they want to work with, they don’t pay the grounds fee. I know what it is to be a poor starving college kid! So they come out a couple times a year and we waive the grounds fee, but then they owe me work days, so they come back out and paint and prep and help set up for shows and that kind of thing. They also hold an Intercollegiate Team Challenge at one of the shows and I sponsor providing the ribbons and stuff for the Challenge.”

Members of the Texas A&M Eventing Team with course designer Carsten Meyer. Photo courtesy of Robbie Peterson.

Robbie explained that being so far from metropolitan areas has made it hard on her volunteers, who sometimes have to travel from hours away to reach the event. “I’m far enough away that it makes it a challenge [for volunteers to go home at the end of the day.] When people come and volunteer their time at MeadowCreek, they’re making a commitment because most likely they’re not just giving up a day, they’re giving up their whole weekend. Our volunteers are so incredible and dedicated, and they all give of themselves so graciously.”

“From the competitors’ standpoint, there are so many people who say, ‘I won’t miss a MeadowCreek show,’ because it’s like going home for them,” Robbie said. “It’s an old venue that’s been around for a very long time and some people hat come have been coming for 20 years. It’s not the fanciest venue – we don’t have an indoor or covered arena, we have challenges with the footing in weather because we’re a completely outdoor venue – but there are people who don’t care, they come anyway. It’s a soft spot for them, it’s where their memories are.”

Ride along with Carlene Kelly and Faithful Journey as they tackle the Beginner Novice cross-country course at the 2017 MeadowCreek Park Horse Trials - Fall Social Event.

“It’s just a really low-pressure atmosphere. It’s not like walking into one of those big events that’s just postcard beautiful and so high-tech – that can be intimidating for someone at their first event because it’s so fancy. At somewhere like MeadowCreek, you feel like you’re just at home schooling. It’s just very laidback, very relaxed, and very casual. It serves a niche for the new-to-the-sport riders, the young horses, the green riders, because it isn’t so intense.”

“To me, it’s always been about the people,” Robbie concluded. “It’s about the friends that you make and how, through horses, you realize what common interests you have with other people, or people that you would never have anything in common with suddenly become your best friends because of horses.”

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

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