Jan 02, 2020

USEA Events A-Z: Three Lakes Horse Trials at Caudle Ranch

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Victoria DeMore Photography Photo.

Three Lakes Horse Trials hosts two events each February at Caudle Ranch in Groveland, Florida (Area III) offering Beginner Novice through Intermediate/Preliminary levels.

R.S. Caudle purchased Caudle Ranch in the 1940s, developing it into a cattle and citrus operation until back-to-back winter freezes destroyed the citrus groves. The remainder of the groves were cleared and replaced with slash pines, and the cattle pastures were converted into hay fields.

Now owned by Caudle’s three granddaughters including Jane Miller, they wanted to find a way to give the property a new purpose. In 2015, Alice and Brad Andrews approached them about hosting recognized horse trials at Caudle Ranch and the Three Lakes Horse Trials was born.

Victoria DeMore Photography Photo.

“At the time, Jane and I felt there was a need in our area for another horse trials venue,” said Alice Andrews, who organizes the event. “I had previous experience as an organizer and Jane is a long-time horsewoman with an absolutely stunning piece of property, so we decided to give it a try.”

“Everything was started from scratch, from clearing tracks through the pine forest, to purchasing stadium jumps, to building cross-country jumps,” Andrews shared. “Our goal was to concentrate on the education of young horses and riders at the lower levels in a smaller, relaxed atmosphere.”

A relatively new event to the USEA calendar, their first event was held mid-January in 2016 and followed by their second event at the end of February that same year. In 2018 they moved the date of their first event to the beginning of February, maintain their end-of-February date for their second event.

Preston Stafford Photo.

Bordered on three sides by three lakes and covered in mature oaks and pines, Caudle Ranch is a beautiful piece of property, according to Andrews. “We do not have stabling, so everyone ships in and out each day (our show is run as back-to-back one-days). Everything is very close and convenient to the parking area, and we run dressage and show jumping on grass.”

“The cross-country course varies in terrain,” she continued. “It runs through open fields as well as through the pine and oak forests. There is a roll to the property, which is a nice feature for a Florida event. We run early in the season and the tracks reflect that. We are a great venue for professionals to bring their young horses. It's always a treat to see the up and coming equines of the future!”

Andrews said that she feels it’s the property that makes the event special. “Plus, the one-day formats,” she added. “We offer Intermediate/Preliminary, Preliminary, and Novice on Saturday, and Training and Beginner Novice on Sunday.”

Victoria DeMore Photography Photo.

“We couldn't have started the event without the support of both of our husbands, family, and friends,” Andrews stated. “Terry Miller is instrumental in keeping the grounds and all the equipment in show-ready shape, and Brad Andrews is a huge part of pre-show set up.”

Morgan Rowsell came on board as their course designer and continues to design their courses today. “His vision and expertise has made our cross-country tracks an inviting learning experience for riders and horses starting the winter season in Florida,” Andrews elaborated.

“We also have an incredible group of volunteers, most of whom have been with us since the beginning,” Andrews said. “We are so thankful for their help and friendship; every one of them is priceless. One example is Preston, who is both a family member and volunteer. He takes amazing photographs while he jump judges, then each year presents us with an album to commemorate our events. Another is Emily Foster and her sisters, Sarah and Sue, who have spent hours stuffing packets, putting together jump judge materials, and organizing the office before our secretary Rick Dunkerton arrives. They are so good at it they now remind us what needs to be done!”

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

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