Dec 27, 2018

USEA Events A-Z: Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials

Carissa Lynn Photography Photo.

The Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials in Nashville, Tennessee (Area III) is run once yearly at Percy Warner Park on the first weekend in October, offering Starter through Preliminary levels. It is the oldest continuously running recognized horse trials in the United States.

The first horse trials in America was produced in 1953 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee under the direction of Miss Margaret Lindsley Warden, writer of the 'Horse Sense' column in The Nashville Tennessean newspaper that ran for 55 years. Miss Warden became interested in the subject after reading an article by Major General Jonathan Burton in The Chronicle of the Horse, who was then stationed in the Military Calvary at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Major General Jonathan R. Burton. USEA Archives Photo.

Warden invited Major Burton to demonstrate dressage atThe Nashville Tennessean sponsored initial pleasure horse and horsemanship show, The Horse Sense Riding Tournament, late in 1952. The next year, The Southeast's Initial One-Day Event was added to the Second Annual Horse Sense Riding Tournament. Major Burton participated, along with Major Paul M. Wimert and several local riders. Majors Burton and Wimert officiated often at these horse trials after retiring from the cavalry.

In the fall of 1954, the Olympic Three-Day Trials ran along with the Riding Tournament and and One Day Event. By 1960, the The Southeast's Initial One-Day Event had grown to become the Nashville-Tennessean One-Day Horse Trials and was included in the list of USCTA sanctioned events.

The 1960 list of USEA sanctioned events. USEA Archives Photo.

In 1979, the Middle Tennessee Pony Club became the official sponsor of the Nashville-Tennessean One-Day Horse Trials. Miss Warden was also the founder of the Pony Club in 1954, the first Pony Club chartered in the United States. This past October, MTPC Horse Trials celebrated the event's 66th anniversary. The original structure of this type of competition remains steadfast, with dressage and cross-country on day one and show jumping on day two.

As noted above, the event began and grew under the guidance of Miss Warden. When the Pony Club took over the organizational responsibilities, she remained involved but the Pony Club District Commissioners (DCs) took over the organizational responsibilities. In 1986, Co-DCs Monty West and JJ Johnson took on the responsibilities, and Johnson continues to play an important role.

The Middle Tennessee Pony Club continues to hold the event, led by the Organization Committee made up of Johnson, Peppy Butler, and Delana Owen. Butler, who is a lifelong Pony Club member, parent and former DC, is the driving force of the event and works closely with the Percy Warner Park staff and all officials and volunteers for all of phases of the event.

Carissa Lynn Photography Photo.

Peggy Snow served as secretary beginning in 1983 through 2006. Fred and Leigh Roberts stood in for 2007, then Deborah Lovett was the event secretary until 2013 until Delana Owen, current Pony Club DC and Pony Club parent, took over that role five years ago. Many other families have remained involved even after their children 'graduate' from Pony Club and the event could not carry on without this support from long-term volunteers in the Middle Tennessee community.

Percy and Edwin Warner Parks are a 3,100-acre facility in a historical location within the city limits of Nashville, Tennessee. A portion of Percy Warner Park has a section devoted to equestrian use and the MTPC Horse Trials shares this area with the long-established Iroquois Steeplechase, held every year in May since 1941. The race is named for Pierre Lorillard's beloved "Iroquois," the first American-bred horse to win the English Derby. The Park has an historical stabling barn that has been restored and is used for both the Steeplechase and Horse Trials. The Pony Club built an all-weather fenced riding surface in 2008 dedicated to honor Miss Warden. The Pony Club hosts many other activities during the year at the Park, including a one-day schooling event, rallies, training camps, and clinics.

Carissa Lynn Photography Photo.

The cross-country courses run on well-established turf with terrain variations. A new water complex was built in 2008 with improvements made each year to various fences. The courses include a bank complex, ditches, and many varied types of fences and are built to design standards. In the era of the long format three-day event in the late 1980s, Neil Ayer designed the courses for the long format. Ritch Temple took over for many years, and Jon Wells has been on board for 13 years.

The Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials is the longest continuously-running horse trials in the United States and its longevity is a testament to the dedication of multitudes of volunteers. Working with all the devoted volunteers, many who return year after year, is one of the highlights of each year’s event.

The USEA is highlighting all the USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A-Z series.

Oct 18, 2019 Education

PODCAST: Prepare Your Horse for Winter with Emily and Dr. Jeff Beshear

On this week's episode of the USEA Podcast, prepare to "winterize" your horse with tips from both a rider's perspective and a veterinarian's perspective. First, five-star eventer Emily Beshear shares her tips for helping your horse adjust to the cooler temperatures. Then, her husband Dr. Jeff Beshear provides tips from a vet's point of view on how best to care for your horse as the season changes.

Oct 17, 2019 Young Event Horse

Double Diamond C and Butt's Aria W Shine at YEH

It was a big ask for the 4- and 5-year-old horses competing in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships today as the famous row of Fair Hill flags were whipping in the wind and there was action in every corner of the main arena in Elkton, Md. With entry numbers in the 4-year-old division nearly doubled this year it was a fight against daylight to fit everyone in for the dressage and conformation phases.

Oct 17, 2019 Competitions

Dondante Dances to an Early Lead at Fair Hill

Dressage took center stage on the blustery first day of The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day with both the CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L kicking off. Will Coleman and Dondante owned by Team Rebecca LLC and The Four-Star Eventing Group sit atop the leaderboard in the CCI4*-L division after earning a 33.8.

Oct 17, 2019 Competitions

USEA Events A-Z: Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials

The Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials are held four times yearly in February, March, April, and December in Aiken, South Carolina (Area III), offering Starter through Intermediate/Preliminary levels.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Riding Helmet of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA