The Spring Bay Horse Trials are held yearly at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky (Area VIII), offering Starter through Preliminary levels.
The Ha’Penny Horse Trials was run in partnership by Mary Bayer and Stanley Wiggs until the spring of 1997. When Mary Bayer moved and the partnership dissolved, there was the need to fill the gap in the spring competition schedule in Area VIII that was left by the Ha’Penny Horse Trials. Wiggs stepped forward and in 1999 ran the first Spring Bay Horse Trials, named after her own Lexington-based farm, between the Kentucky Horse Park and Masterson Station Park.
The Kentucky Horse Park is where horses stable and where dressage and show jumping are held. Cross-country takes place five miles down the road at Masterson State Park, a piece of land set aside by the county for use by equestrians. The event can’t run cross-country at the horse park because the event’s date is just weeks before the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. “Masterson State Park is a county/city owned park that has areas set aside for the use by equestrians,” organizer Mary Fike explained. “It is over 600 acres of open, rolling bluegrass that is open to riding, free of charge. There are some hills on the front part of the cross-country course where the Training and Preliminary courses go and less steep hills in the back where Novice and Beginner Novice courses run.”
Fike described the cross-country courses, which she designs herself, as a bit soft. “Our cross-country is always on the soft side due to being so early on the calendar for our level,” she elaborated. “Most of the folk that don’t go south for the winter are challenged to get ready that early and those that do go south are often either not home yet or are looking to move up. We do have permanent water jumps on each course as well as banks and ditches. The courses tend to be open and galloping. The footing is generally pretty good, but can be wet if the weather has been uncooperative. We stay on the high parts!”
Fike has a team of people behind her that help make the Spring Bay Horse Trials possible. “Georgia Ockerman is the Director of the Riding Program for the Lexington Parks Department and her support of the event at Masterson State Park has ensured that it can continue to run there. She has been so helpful as an intermediary between us and the Parks Department.
“There is Debbie Hinkle – she was our secretary for years and is a competitor favorite,” Fike continued. “She could schedule anything with a smile on her face and had a knack of making everyone feel special. She got so many presents from the competitors, sometimes I would get jealous – but she deserved it all.”
“Bev Henson is our ‘Quartermaster.’ Bev takes care of getting volunteers for Spring Bay, as well as keeping us fed and watered and she also makes sure our volunteers and officials have anything they need!”
As the first event to take place in Area VIII each year, Fike says that it holds a special place in competitors’ hearts. “Many of our competitors are really loyal to it,” Fike detailed. “They support us even when the conditions have been less than fun. Many times we have been dubbed ‘Winter Bay’ and have actually held the competition in the snow. That made for lots of great pictures and fun war stories. Those riders who support Spring Bay year after year have no idea how much we appreciate them and we really try to put the event on for them.”
One of the things Fike enjoys the most about the event is seeing everyone out after the winter season. “It is a little like a reunion – fresh energy, big plans for the season, and great camaraderie,” she said. “We are truly glad to see them and we really want the event to serve their needs as a kick-off to a successful season!”
The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A-Z series.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).