Nov 08, 2018

USEA Events A-Z: Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials

By Michelle Ptak - Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials
A rider on course in the water at the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials. Merrick Studios Photo courtesy of Michelle Ptak.

The Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials are held once yearly in May at the Longview Horse Park in Kansas City, Missouri (Area IV), offering Starter through Preliminary levels. Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials is traditionally the first event of the year held in Area IV.

The Mill Creek Pony Club (MCPC) began holding an annual horse trial in 1985 at Twin Mill Farms, the stable where MCPC held their mounted and unmounted meetings. In 1987, the Club moved the horse trials to Longview Horse Park where it has been held ever since.

Longview Horse Park is a gorgeous venue. It was named for Longview Farm which holds a wonderful place in Midwest history. Established in the early 1900s by lumber baron Robert A. Long, the farm originally encompassed over 1,700 acres and was known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Farm.” Longview Horse Park was established in 1984 via land donation to Jackson County Missouri Parks. It boasts a large sand arena, warmup arena, 145 permanent stalls (34 of which were added with the construction of a new barn in 2017), indoor restrooms and show office, covered shelter (added in 2018), and cross-country course.

A young Pony Club member competing at the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials. Robin Frazee Photo courtesy of Michelle Ptak.

The cross-country course is the gem of Longview Horse Park. The terrain is beautiful rolling hills with mature trees and natural ditches. The course has great grass galloping lanes plus a large banked water complex. MCPC has purchased new jumps at each level and rebuilt older ones so we can change the courses and tracks every year.

There are many things that make MCPC Horse Trials special, but most of all it is our fantastic volunteers! Many come back year after year and all are incredibly friendly and happy to be there. MCPC Horse Trials is run by volunteers – only our USEA officials and course designers are paid. Much of the income from the horse trials goes back into the cross-country course – from buying new jumps every year, repairing the permanent obstacles, to reaerating the galloping lanes.

Our horse trials secretary, Courtney Newcomer Nelson, and her mother, Becky Newcomer, began sharing the secretary role in 1997. After Becky’s untimely death in 2003, Courtney has carried on the tradition of event secretary. She is the cheerful face of our competition to our competitors - professionally handling their entries, changes, and questions. USPC Midwest Region has held their eventing Rally in conjunction with our horse trials for many years and Courtney has patiently educated countless newbie parents entering their children in their first USEA event. Our event is generally held on Mother's Day weekend each year and Courtney’s husband and children join her in handing out prizes and awards.

The wrought iron horses donated by the Newcomer family and designed by Courtney in honor of her mother, Becky. Michelle Ptak Photo.

After Becky’s passing, the Newcomer family donated the main entrance to the horse park in her memory. Courtney designed and created the wrought iron horses running across the top of the entrance.

We also have wonderfully generous sponsors that provide very special prizes and awards – many honoring people (or horses) that have been important to our horse trials or Club. Our sponsors also help with our cross-country coursewalk reception on Friday night and our competitors/volunteers pizza party on Saturday night.

The thing I look forward to about the event each year is most certainly the people! We have competitors that come back year after year – some from as far away as Canada. It is wonderful to reconnect with them and then see the new faces. We enjoy hearing stories from competitors who tell us about their adventures competing at our horse trials when they were just kids.

The Mill Creek Pony Club's KC Royals jump "that we got the year we had Royal fever when they won the world series!" Olivia Coolidge Photo courtesy of Michelle Ptak.

So, why should you come to the MCPC Horse Trials? We have updated/new tracks every year to keep our courses fresh and exciting. We offer great prizes – from our $500 first place cash prize for Preliminary to the first through third place prizes for each class. Plus, our team challenge has first through third place prizes for teams leading after dressage and cross-country awarded at the competitors/volunteers pizza party on Saturday night. If you haven’t competed at MCPC Horse Trials before, come give us a try – we think you will be back!

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