Mar 21, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: Olney Farm Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Sophie Perri, Ami Howard's granddaughter, and Olney St. Nick. Amy Flemming-Waters Photography Photo.

Olney Farm in Joppa, Maryland (Area II) hosts their annual horse trial in August offering Beginner Novice through Modified level. Olney Farm is a boarding and training barn that teaches lessons year-round and hosts camps during the summer. They also host unrecognized events and dressage shows.

In 1855, the Shriver-Howard family came into possession of Olney Farm, 200 acres of fields and woods in Harford County, Maryland, and it has remained in the family ever since. In 1920, a pony breeding business was started by the youngest of the Shriver-Howard daughters and a breeding, boarding, teaching, and training business grew from that to the operation Olney Farm is today.

Amy Flemming-Waters Photography Photo.

“My farm has a long history with teaching beginners, starting in the 1930s with my mother-in-law,” said Ami Howard, Olney Farm’s owner and organizer of the Olney Farm Horse Trials. “We ran hunter shows, game shows, benefit shows, and jumper shows. I had started eventing in the 1960s, so I decided to run a small event. Relaxed, encouraging, and disorganized but very enthusiastic! Our flock of sheep managed to escape and exit through our dressage ring, and to add to the Farm atmosphere, our two milk cows chose to stand as close as possible to the show jumping ring.”

Those first few unrecognized events took place in the early 1990s. The first USEA recognized Olney Farm Horse Trials ran on the second weekend of June in 1995. “After a couple of [unrecognized] years, I realized that I wanted the input of USCTA officials, but they were reluctant to officiate without the umbrella of the organization's insurance covering them,” Howard explained. “Therefore, I applied for a date and USCTA recognition.”

Amy Flemming-Waters Photography Photo.

“I would say that the biggest influence and the most generous and sympathetic help came from Brian Ross, who was my first official Technical Delegate,” Howard continued. “He encouraged us in every possible way and was willing to show a very small, low level, local event on the path to improvement, interest, and encouragement.”

Olney Farm has continued to make expansions and improvements to the cross-country courses each year with the help of course designer Jeff Kibbie. “Our cross-country courses have a wide variety of portables, with banks, ditches, two waters, with hills, woods, and open fields,” said Howard. “I want competitors to leave feeling confident and able to reach their goals and challenged just enough (especially first time eventers) to be ready for the next event.”

Amy Flemming-Waters Photography Photo.

“We still try to remain low key, educational, and low level as an encouraging event, just sticking to the levels through Modified. I encourage my officials to do the same, with way more positive comments than negative (within the rules of course)!”

“I look forward to having happy competitors driving out of our gates at the end of the day, whether they won or lost!”

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

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