Saturday, May 28, 2016, many eventers in North Texas made a familiar drive to Tre’ and Janet Book’s Willow Draw. Known for its schooling cross-country course and frequent clinics, the Weatherford, Texas farm hosted its first horse trial over Memorial Weekend. The Willow Draw Charity Show featured divisions for Starter through Training (results posted on StartBox Scoring). Over the past several years, Area V riders have taken advantage of Willow Draw’s cross-country course for clinics, schooling days, and schooling show, and they were thrilled to welcome the addition of this recognized one-day horse trials.
“We donated $10,000 in horse trial profits to the Semper Fi Fund to help wounded veterans”, said Tre’ Book. Established in 2004, The Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance and lifetime support to wounded and critically ill members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. “Semper Fi passed our review criteria for effective assistance and financial and accountability ratings, and we are impressed with the good work it has done for wounded veterans of all branches of service.
Chris Lowe, a veteran of two tours in Iraq and several other international assignments, attended the Willow Draw show with his wife Crystal and his service dog Koda to represent the Semper Fi Fund. Chris was enthusiastic about the support and exposure the Tre’ and Janet Book offered to Semper Fi through the horse trials. He said “Semper Fi has helped me rebuild my life. It’s given me a new hope for life.” Chris deals with PTSD and various injuries, and like thousands of other wounded veterans, has benefitted from Semper Fi’s direct assistance beginning from his time in hospital some years ago.
Tre' and Janet Book and event volunteers present Chis Lowe and his service dog, Koda, with their fundraising efforts. Terrie Hatcher Photo.
Chris found his first horse trials experience interesting and entertaining, as he’s never been to an English style horse show. “I know more about Western riding and stay involved through Semper Fi’s Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program”, said Chris. “Semper Fi provides both equestrian and non-equestrian activities,” said Chris. “We go on overnight cattle drives, and it’s done as a therapy. The chance to be one with the horse helps me feel like a normal human being. A horse won’t let you stay mad. The horse lets you know ‘this is not how you do it’. It’s the same with people, and a horse will help teach you that.”
It being the first weekend, competitors were eager to see what the courses would look like. Carsten Meyer, course designer for the May 28th horse trials, explains that competitors experienced terrain and questions up to the level, but not necessarily a “max” effort throughout. Carsten explains “For this first recognized horse trials, about 75% of each course was max height, but we softened the height just a bit through the most complex questions. At Training level, for example, we built a water combination that encourages both horse and rider. We wanted the courses should help everyone be confident, safe and happy.”
Janet Book's Last Dance, ridden by Kadi Eykamp in the open training division. Terrie Hatcher Photo.
For owners Tre’ and Janet Book, their beloved Willow Draw is a concept, not just a farm or a stable. The Books are clear that the name “Willow Draw” stands on its own, not paired with names such as “Equestrian Center” or “Farm”. Beautiful, majestic willows drape over the sometimes-watery draw that runs through the flat meadow, while old oaks scatter over a terrain-rich hill. “Willow Draw is an unusually beautiful place,” Carsten says. “It’s like an English country estate when they are going to run a horse trials.”
Janet Book, an event rider and retired schoolteacher, worked hard to make it a smoothly-run, well-organized event. “I want everyone to have a good, safe time at our user-friendly course and facilities,” she said. For the Books, and all Willow Draw enthusiasts, it was satisfying to see the first horse trial come to fruition, and the facility plans to host a second recognized horse trial this November 5-6.
The Books chose the 125 rolling acres to enjoy equally both the challenge and the relaxing escape of equestrian activity. The green views across the rolling, partially-wooded hillside alongside the large open meadow feels as if it is much more remote than it actually is, just west of both Dallas-Fort Worth and the juncture where north-south Interstate 35 meets east-west Interstate 20.
Janet Book’s interest in eventing led her husband Tre’ to move full-throttle into developing Willow Draw as an event and equestrian facility, even though the sport was new to him at the time. In addition to the USEA-standard cross-country course Willow Draw features a boarding facility, a large covered arena and an outdoor show jumping arena, as well as quiet riding trails. The Books invite local horse owners to subscribe to access so that they may also enjoy it.
Tre’ and Janet Book look forward to welcoming competitors to Willow Draw’s next recognized horse trials on November 5 – 6!
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is humbled to announce the return of long-time partner The Dutta Corporation as the “Title Sponsor of the 2023 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships,” which include the East Coast Championships at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in Elkton, Maryland, on Oct. 19-20 and the West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, on Oct. 27-28.
When Team SmartPak Rider Silva Martin saddles up, it’s always with a helmet. Silva’s riding career has taken her from Germany all across the world before she settled in the United States in 2007—well before helmets were popular in dressage. When the traditional top hat ruled the dressage ring, riders often schooled in baseball caps or nothing at all.
Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington, served as the beautiful backdrop for this year’s USEA Area VII Championships. In total, there were 11 championship divisions offered from the Beginner Novice level through Intermediate, in addition to the event’s regular horse trial divisions. USEA President Lou Leslie was onsite to lend a helping hand and help issue awards during the prize-giving ceremonies. Meet the 11 new USEA Area VII Champions below!
The USEA is sad to report that Mr. Medicott (Cruising x Slieveluachra) passed away on September 17 at Ms. Jacqueline Mars’ Stonehall Farm in Virginia where he has enjoyed his retirement since 2019. The Irish Sport Horse gelding made quite the mark on the sport of eventing in the U.S., completing more than 50 FEI events over the course of his career with five different riders and finishing in the top 10 at 30 of those competitions. Mr. Medicott attended two Olympic Games and one World Equestrian Games for two different countries over the course of his career. “Cave,” as he was known around the barn, was 24 years old at the time of his death.