Horse trials have been running at Twin Towers Horse Park since long before the Miami Valley Equestrian Association (MVEA) was formed. The Greater Dayton Horse Trials were held there for more than 25 years – the last Greater Dayton Horse Trials was in May of 2014 – and the Gemwood Horse Trials ran on the last weekend in July until 2011. Both of these events were originally spearheaded by George Maharg.
When Maharg was ready to retire, he sold the licenses for both events to Laura Beaver, who ran the events for several more years before electing to move away from hosting USEA recognized competitions. After that, Twin Towers sat largely unused for several years, except for the occasional unrecognized schooling show or clinic.
Twin Towers Horse Park is part of the Greene County Park System, so the maintenance for the park is managed by the county government. The Park sits on 102 acres and has 27 permanent stalls, two dressage courts, a grass area for show jumping, and a cross-country course with obstacles up through the Preliminary level.
Beth Weisberger, a current member of MVEA’s board, has been involved at Twin Towers since when Beaver was running events at the facility. While Beaver was still running events there, Weisberger found an excavator and worked with the maintenance team at Twin Towers to install a more comprehensive water complex. In the last couple of years, she’s also spearheaded the construction of two new bank complexes with options for Starter through Preliminary.
Through her involvement with MVEA, Weisberger met Amy Grayson, who came to Ohio from Indiana where she had done some work with the Hoosier Horse Park. Together with MVEA’s president Emily Hansen-Palmus, Weisberger and Grayson hatched the idea to bring USEA recognized eventing back to Twin Towers.
First, they started offering unrecognized schooling events, jumper derbies, and similar activities, to test the waters and get a feel for what it would take to organize a larger event. “They were pretty successful,” Weisberger said. “And so we said let’s try for a [recognized event].”
Once they’d decided to move forward with organizing a USEA recognized event, Weisberger called Carolyn Borgert (volunteer coordinator for the Kentucky Three-Day Event), Mary Fike (organizer of the Kentucky Classique, Hagyard Midsouth, and Spring Bay Horse Trials), and Janice Holmes (owner of Holmestead Stables) for advice on how to proceed. Weisberger went through the process of submitting the application to the USEA, and before she received a response she was contacted by Equestrian Events, Inc. “Carolyn called me and said that EEI was interested in running our event,” Weisberger said. “Then we would have an organizer that really knows what they’re doing helping us.”
This happened while the fate of the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event was still uncertain. When Kentucky was ultimately able to move forward, EEI had to back away from helping with Miami Valley. Still interested in having support from an experienced organizer at this point, Weisberger reached out to Fike to see if she would be willing to come on board to help organize instead.
The plan is to run over two days, plus a bit. Training level will do dressage on Friday afternoon, with the remaining levels doing their dressage on Saturday. All levels will run cross-country on Saturday, and then all levels will show jump on Sunday. They’re planning to bring in temporary stabling to accommodate those who want to stay overnight, and there is plenty of room for trailer-ins as well. They’ve set the capacity for this first event at 210 horses.
“Our biggest draw for shows in our area is the lower levels,” Weisberger explained of the decision to only offer up through Training level for the time being. However, she said they are considering adding Modified in the future if there’s enough interest.
Cathy Wieschhoff has come on board as the course designer for Miami Valley, and helped Weisberger with the construction of the two new bank complexes. Not only does she design the courses, but she comes to Twin Towers to set all the courses and make sure every jump is exactly where she wants it to be. “She’s got the master plan of how she wants to run things,” Weisberger described.
It’s full steam ahead now for the Miami Valley Horse Trials, whose opening date was on Tuesday of this past week. While Weisberger, Grayson, and Hansen-Palmus are all experienced eventers, they are excited to have Fike on board to help with the details of organizing the event so that competitors can have the best possible experience. “There are details that we want to make sure we get right the first time so people come and have a really good experience,” Weisberger said. “Now that we have Mary with us, I think we’re good to go!”
“We are going to hold the best possible event we can,” Weisberger concluded. “Every single person is highly motivated to make it be successful.”
The USEA profiles the history behind each USEA recognized event in the USEA Events A-Z series.
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