The Whidbey Island Horse Trials lost the ability in 2019 to run a recognized event on the property where we have been operating since the mid-1990s, forcing the painful decision to cancel the 2019 horse trials. Since late summer last year, planning was in the works for our 2020 Horse Trials to be held at a new beautiful location in the prairie farmland outside of Coupeville. Preliminary agreements were in place with the landowner, site plans had been developed, and our course designer had approved of the site’s potential. This property, like a large proportion of the agricultural land in this area, has conservation easements on it to prevent development and maintain the rural character of the prairie. The easements on this property also have provisions for equestrian trails and the landowner did not anticipate that the horse trials use would conflict in any way with the purpose of the easements. Lawyers for the Land Trust, however, determined that our event would not be allowed under the terms of their agreement with the landowners – this terrible news was just conveyed to us in February, forcing us to scramble to find an alternative plan or cancel the competition once again.
The good news is that a promising alternative event site has already been identified. We feel, however, that there are too many risks to our ability to deliver a quality event in just four months at a site where we are still working out contractual details and where we will still need to submit for County permits and construct trails, courses, and fencing. Additionally, changing sites at this late date is a violation of USEF GR302 which requires notice 240 days in advance of a competition location change. It is with great sadness and disappointment that we convey this development to our wonderful competitors and supporters. While we were operating in good faith believing that we would be able to deliver on our commitment to run the Whidbey Island Horse Trials in 2020, we understand that for competitors this is frustrating. As we did in 2019, we plan to instead to offer a schooling event in place of a recognized event in July 2020 and our very popular back-to-back one days in September 2020.
We remain resolute and committed to continuing to offer a quality eventing experience on Whidbey Island in 2021 and beyond, just as we had for more than 40 years in the past. Thank you - we are very grateful for your support of our ongoing effort.
There were surprisingly few shakeups to the top of the leaderboards Friday at the MARS Bromont CCI, but the incredibly close scores leave no margin for error heading into Saturday’s exciting cross-country phase across all five levels.
Tomorrow, the first of five regional clinics for the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Program kicks off in the central region of the country in Benton, Louisiana, at Holly Hill Farm. Throughout the summer, the remaining clinics on the East and West Coast will follow. At each clinic, 12 hand-selected riders will participate in a two-day clinic led by USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) coaches. The purpose of the EA21 program is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency. The intention is to provide young athletes with access to an added level of horsemanship and riding skills to further their training and skill development with greater consistency.
After the first day of competition, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and her horse FE Golden Eye lead an international field in the CCI4*-L division of the MARS Bromont CCI.