Sep 12, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: The Event at Skyline

Courtney Jensen Photo.

The Event at Skyline in Mount Pleasant, Utah (Area IX) takes place twice yearly in May and September, offering Introductory through Intermediate/Preliminary levels.

Skyline Eventing Park was founded in 2015 by a group of hard-working women with a vision. Before Skyline Eventing Park was created, Area IX, which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and most of Montana and Idaho, had only 10 recognized horse trials. The creation of Skyline Eventing Park has helped grow the eventing community in the American west and provides a challenging, well-designed course for local eventers to continue to improve and grow in the sport. Skyline now runs two recognized horse trials, around four schooling events, and numerous clinics with international riders annually.

Courtney Jensen Photo.

Skyline Eventing Park is currently organized by five local riders and trainers – Dr. Summer Peterson, Carrie Matteson, Lani Homan-Taylor, Travis Atkinson, and Taylor Timmerman. The effort to create Skyline Eventing park was spearheaded by Peterson, an equine vet and Intermediate eventer who also happened to live in the same county as the park. Summer recognized the opportunity and had the vision for the creation of a cross country course on 60+ acres of raw, rocky acres of municipally-owned land and helped facilitate early talks with government officials to help make Skyline Eventing Park a reality.

Peterson also helped with early fundraising efforts including an “Extreme Horsemen’s Challenge” which gave local riders and eventers a sneak peek of the new course and helped introduce riders from other disciplines into the insanity of the sport. The challenge included a few of the newly created cross-country obstacles as well as more “unique” obstacles such as a tire pull and riding your horse through a mock “car wash.” The culmination was an exciting and thrill-filled day where local cowboys learned more about eventing and vice versa. After all, it’s not every day that you see a cowboy with fringe chaps and a ten-gallon hat dropping into a Training level water complex!

Lorraine Jackson Photo.

Skyline Eventing Park is located at the Cleone Peterson Eccles Equestrian Center in Mount Pleasant, Utah. While it is certainly “off the beaten path,” regional riders are awarded with spectacular views of the local mountain range, and the small city of Mount Pleasant has all the amenities an eventer could need including a grocery store, regional hospital, hardware/auto parts stores, several local restaurants, quaint family-owned inn, and perhaps most excitingly, a new coffee shop.

The equestrian center boasts four all-weather rings, including a large indoor, and a new outside ring that Skyline Eventing created for dressage and show jumping for the recognized horse trials. The Center also has 200 stalls, four wash stalls, numerous RV hookups, and we are currently creating six new wash stalls with concrete pads.

The cross-country course is directly adjacent to the dressage and show jumping ring and encompasses over 60 acres of gently rolling terrain. We created the cross-country course from scratch, including digging out the tracks, filling in ravines, and creating sunken roads and two water complexes. The rocky terrain was an initial challenge for creating the cross-country tracks, and many times we felt like we were “fishing for rocks,” but our efforts were rewarded with beautiful sand cross-country tracks that provide excellent support and footing for our equine athletes. The river sand that was revealed underneath the rugged surface holds water exceptionally well and is firm enough for very little “slippage” when galloping and jumping.

Courtney Jensen Photo.

The course is designed by James Atkinson who has created one of the most attractive courses in the western U.S., and the whole country. What makes Skyline Eventing Park’s course exceptionally unique is that it has a “mini” version of everything. The ditch wall for the intro course was built the same way for the prelim wall- with the same attention to detail, quality of building, and design put into every fence on the course.

One of the things that makes the Event at Skyline special is the connection to the local community and natural beauty of the surrounding areas. For example, in 2016, longtime local instructor and eventer Ellen Walker passed away unexpectedly. Skyline Eventing named the subsequent fall event after her and dedicated one of the new Preliminary fences in her honor. The “book jump” was built in Ellen’s memory (she was also an avid reader) and it remains one of the most beautiful, well-designed jumps on the course.

Lorraine Jackson Photo.

Another thing that makes Skyline Eventing special is the community itself. Area IX is spread throughout a large geographical area, but in many ways, our local eventers are some of the most genuinely supportive, caring riders you can find. Maybe because we know what it’s like to battle huge snowstorms in the winter and extreme summer temps- or hauling 12-plus hours in these extreme environments to make it to recognized horse trials.

One of the things that Skyline Eventing has become “known” for is our rocking competitors parties. Although quaint, Mount Pleasant, Utah doesn’t have the most audacious night-life, so we strive to make our Saturday night competitors party one the highlights of the event. Our parties have included barrel racing and pole bending competitions on borrowed rodeo ponies, bareback puissance, and insane relay races that include golf carts, roping, and blow-up bouncy horses. Of course, every competitors party includes a nostalgic music playlist, delicious food, and a healthy amount of margaritas.

We understand that Mount Pleasant, Utah might not be the center of the eventing world, but we promise that if you make it to one of our events, we do (almost) everything in our power to make it a positive, fun, educational opportunity for every rider at every level.

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

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