Sep 05, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: Spokane Sport Horse Farm Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Cyra Carlson Photo.

Spokane Sport Horse Farm in Spokane, Washington (Area VII) hosts horse trials in the spring and fall, offering USEA Future Event Horse, USEA New Event Horse, and USEA Young Event Horse classes in addition to Introductory through Advanced/Intermediate horse trials. At their fall event, Spokane Sport Horse Farm also hosts USEA Classic Series Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, and Preliminary Three-Day Events. Spokane Sport Horse Farm offers cross-country schooling and hosts USEA registered schooling events and educational clinics.

Christel Carlson purchased 150 acres of property just outside Spokane after moving to Washington from Florida, where she had evented at venues such as Rocking Horse Ranch in the early 1980s, with the initial intent of hosting her own event. While Spokane Sport Horse Farm did host unrecognized events, dressage shows, and pony club rallies, a USEA recognized event never quite got off the ground.

After the much-loved eastern Washington Deep Creek Horse Trials closed its doors in 2004, many locals began encouraging Carlson to transition her unrecognized events to USEA recognized events. In October 2015, Spokane Sport Horse Farm hosted its first USEA recognized event, offering divisions through Training level. In May of 2016, they added a spring event, and ever since Spokane Sport Horse Farm has hosted the first and last events of the year in Area VII.

Cyra Carlson Photo.

Over the course of the last few years, Spokane Sport Horse Farm has increased their offering to include Preliminary, Intermediate, Advanced/Intermediate, and USEA Future Event Horse, USEA New Event Horse, and USEA Young Event Horse divisions. They also have the only Modified level course in Area VII. In 2017, Spokane Sport Horse Farm began offering Hylofit USEA Classic Series Three-Day divisions, and this year is the only event in the U.S. to host all four Classic Series Three-Day levels: Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, and Preliminary.

Like all events, Spokane Sport Horse Farm has a team behind it without which the event could not take place. James Atkinson designs all the courses at Spokane Sport Horse Farm and has also constructed most of the event’s fences. “He has a real eye for the property and how to develop and utilize it as we steadily built and advanced these last few year,” Carlson said.

“The groundwork was done by my dream team of Gary Powell (and his excavator), Scott Currey (skid steer and bobcat grappler), and Bill Bryan (chainsaw),” Carlson continued. “Super support from Greg Haff, who has been our starter for all of our events; Dee Tomson in the office, among others; vets Dr. Belles and Dr. Herning; Tom Torvik and Scott Meredith for our safety officers; Lou Leslie for taking over stabling; and so many other volunteers! My family: my daughter Cyra, who is an active competitor, jump tester, and encourager and helps me deliver hundreds of bags of shavings; roommate Gail Mackie who organizes volunteers; and my farm employee Jose Andrade, who takes great pride in the grounds.”

Officials at Spokane Sport Horse Farm hard at work! Photo courtesy of Christel Carlson.

Spokane Sport Horse Farm sits five miles south of Spokane on the edge of the rolling Palouse Hills. “There are lava outcrops throughout the property, pine trees, and fields,” Carlson detailed. “A ridgeline offers good gallops up and down. Plenty of room for portables and parking with almost 100 permanent stables. We have a formal long dressage court, large indoor, two round pens, and a large fenced outdoor for warmup. We added a control tower and large outdoor jump arena since we started our events. We can now run four dressage arenas and Introductory to Advanced/Intermediate levels."

“The course makes use of terrain and placement of portables to offset the fixed front and back water complexes, ditches, and banks,” Carlson said of the cross-country course. “We turned the direction completely around this spring. It is more galloping than technical and is inviting yet to standard. The [lower levels] have miniatures of some of the big fences, so everyone has cabins, wine barrel jumps, and oxers made from trees from the farm. The visibility is excellent from the ridgeline for start and finish as well as many jumps in front or back field and along the ridge . . . We are on the drier side of Washington so we can gallop in May where Seattle area might not be able to do so.”

Cyra Carlson Photo.

“I think inviting 200 plus folks to your backyard is interesting,” Carlson observed. “I love the property and love eventing. Sharing it with others and bringing it back to this part of our region has been very rewarding. We have several jumps on the course as a thank you or a memorial to a person or horse. The most fun has been the Hylofit USEA Classic Series – seeing the horsemanship, the joy of the steeplechase, the 10 minute box, and the outfits at trot up!”

“We appreciate [our competitors’] choice to attend our event. We strive to offer opportunity to all with solid construction, thoughtful placement, and good infrastructure. I would love to have more folks participate in the Hylofit USEA Classic Series – it can be so much fun to get your horse fit and that cross-country ride will probably be your best ever!”

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

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