May 02, 2023

USEA Events A-Z: Redefined Equestrian Horse Trials

By Jonathan Horowitz - USEA Staff
Photos courtesy of Redefined Equestrian

Daina Kaugars and her fiancé, James Kersey, have embraced the challenges of what goes into running a USEA-recognized horse trial on their farm in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“I’ve always wanted to do it; that’s why we bought the farm [in 2017],” Kaugars. “We found this property and said, ‘Well, this one has the terrain to do it.’ So, we basically purpose-bought it to run a horse trial. Then, the boarding facility was my way of making it work.”

Kaugars and Kersey have even decided to postpone their wedding, originally scheduled for 2023, “literally because planning a wedding and planning a horse trial all in the same year just seemed a little bit impossible,” Kaugars said.

The Redefined Equestrian Horse Trials will run for the first time on July 7-9, 2023, as a three-day event offering USEA-recognized levels from Beginner Novice to Training, as well as the USEA-recognized tests of Tadpole and Starter. It will become the seventh venue in the USEA’s Area IX of Colorado, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming to host a recognized horse trial in 2023. The Area’s newest event slots in nicely on the calendar.

“The idea is that the July event is meant for a prep run for everybody to go up to Rebecca [in Montana] without having to go to Arrowhead [in Montana] or way down south,” Kaugars said.

Area IX has a rich eventing history, and Redefined Equestrian hopes to continue that legacy. Abbe Ranch in Larkspur, Colorado, hosted its first USEA-recognized horse trial in 1976, but organizers Susan and Dick Farmer decided not to continue running events after the pandemic, meaning that its final one was in 2019.

The Tomora Horse Trials in Greeley, Colorado, launched in 2022 as the new identity of the Moqui Meadows H.T. that organizer Erin Contino and her team had revived the year before. Now, Redefined will begin its history to cater to the passionate eventing community in the Area. Redefined has previously hosted schooling shows and clinics, and Kaugars and Kersey have decided to grow their investment in the sport.

“When Abbe Ranch quit running, [Area IX Organizer Representative] Allison Murphy reached out to me—we were actually at one of my arena eventing shows—and said, ‘That’s available, but it’s not going to be available for very long. You should do one next year.’ So, I said, ‘OK, I guess I’ll do it.’”

Daina Kaugars

That accelerated Kaugars’ vision.

“I hadn’t planned on running one this year that was recognized, but since there was a need and there was a date open, I applied,” Kaugars said.

Kaugars connected with Cathy Wieschhoff, a USEF “R” Course Designer based in Kentucky who has ridden at eventing’s highest level in the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials in England. Kaugars and Kersey built the facilities on their Redefined Equestrian Farm completely from scratch. So, the cross country tracks offered Wieschhoff a blank canvas to design a course.

“It was really cool,” the course designer said. “I really had a lot of fun walking around. It was kind of funny because I go—and especially when you’re laying out something brand new—they’re all like, ‘What are we going to do?’ and I’m like, ‘I just have to go walk around by myself and get a feel for it, and then I can start dotting in jumps where I think it might work.’”

James Kersey

What Wieschhoff has designed will provide educational opportunities for eventers in Area IX.

“I love the terrain that they have there,” she said. “I mean, you can really do some fun stuff with doing exercises either uphill or downhill. You’ve got to be careful about that because you get people coming from flat, and those are hard questions to ask beginner horses to do—not so much jumping uphill but going downhill and having some type of balance and making a turn. I felt like I used the terrain well in order to have some questions but not have it be too difficult.”

Then came the hard work of bringing the vision to life, and Kaugars said she is especially grateful to the local eventing community.

“James and I have built everything we own, but without those guys and everybody that’s shown up to paint and learn how to work a chop saw and an impact [driver] and all of that, it would not have been feasible,” Kaugars said. “We’ve built probably, at last count, close to 50 fences in one summer, which is absolutely bonkers when you really think about it. I’ve learned to accept help when offered because I used to say I would just do everything myself.”

Kaugars said she hopes to attract 100 entries for the initial event. Entries are capped at 130 with two dressage rings available. In addition to Wieschhoff designing cross-country, William Robertson from Kentucky will design the show jumping course.

The Redefined Equestrian Horse Trials will ultimately be a personal one for Kaugars and Kersey. The event takes place on the farm they’ve built. It’s also named for the chestnut Hanoverian mare Re D’Feined that Kaugars campaigned when she returned to competing in USEA-recognized events after a five-year hiatus in 2017, the same year she and Kersey bought their farm. The roots they’re laying down together can ultimately become roots for the entire Area IX eventing community.

Daina Kaugars and Re D’Feined.

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

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