The Pacific Indoor Eventing Series got off to a great start Oct. 11 in Sycamore Stables' big covered arena in San Juan Capistrano. The day saw 220 jumping rounds completed, by eventers and hunter/jumper riders, from Sycamore and surrounding stables and a great time was had by all.
The event was created by three Southern California event riders and trainers, Auburn Excell Brady and James and Taren Atkinson. (California Riding Magazine, Oct. 2014)
The aim of the series is to "educate and inspire riders of different disciplines to try our sport," says Auburn, who is an upper level event rider running her business out of Sycamore. She enlisted the help of James and Taren, who organize three USEA and USEF recognized horse trials a year at their facility, Copper Meadows, in Ramona. James, in addition to being an upper level rider and Canadian Equestrian Event Team rider, is a FEI 1/2* licensed cross-country course designer, and was responsible for putting together the tracks for the first PIE show. Taren is also an upper level eventer, and brought with her four years of organizing experience to help the event run smoothly.
In addition to inspiring new riders to try eventing, the series offers new and exciting challenges for event riders at venues they otherwise might not visit. PIE hopes to fill in open spots in the California eventing calendar - working around the Area VI event calendar and offering winter activities as the event season winds down.
"We hope to offer these events as continued education for Area VI, and other area, eventers," James says, "and hopefully give them a new type of event to further their horses' exposure." The courses and classes offered did just that: each class offered two sections - one a typical jumper class with jump-off round, and the other, at the same height, was a mixture of show jumps and cross-country fences.
The day started with an Introductory division, with all fences - show jumps and cross-country - 2' and under. The cross-country fences included a ditch, log, ramp and gate, all decorated with fake brush and flowers as is standard at eventing competitions. Riders typically entered both classes in each division, giving their horse a chance to enter the covered arena and jump around a familiar jumper type course first, and then moving on to the challenge of added cross-country obstacles. As the day went on, jump heights increased and more cross-country obstacles were introduced.
High energy staging created a great atmosphere for riders and spectators. The hired announcer, Louis Blankenship, is a staple at Area VI events, and is noted for his exuberant announcing style. He added to the excitement of the day by narrating as horse and rider combinations navigated the cross-country classes, and gave information about eventing as divisions were changed and new
courses set. Upbeat music was provided by DJ Sean Brady, who even took song requests from riders. Sponsor banners lined the arena and colorful plants decorated the jumps. Spectators crowded the rail throughout the day, cheering as horses and riders made it over the impressive looking cross-country obstacles, and supporting their local hunter/jumper trainers as they got their first taste of cross-country riding.
Prize money was critical to the event's success. "Prize money is very rare in eventing," Taren says. "We felt that it would attract more riders, both eventers and riders of other disciplines, and we wanted to create an event that has future marketable potential."
The organizers secured class sponsors, reaching out to Area VI events and local businesses to get involved. Each class offered $500 in prize money as well as wonderful prizes donated by additional sponsors. Among those to donate cash prizes were three Area VI events, Copper Meadows in Ramona, Galway Downs in Temecula and Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles.
Additional class sponsors include: American Horse Products, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Equestrian Habits, San Dieguito Equine, Spartan Veterinary Services, and Equinox Equestrian. A large silent auction was held on the day, with all proceeds donated to the Sycamore Stables based TROTT (Training Racehorses Off The Track). Among the prizes given out were leather halters donated by Toklat, saddle pads donated by Professionals Choice, belts from C4 belts and Lionheart belts, and horse cookies donated by Cavalor - who also provided a welcome bag with samples and candy to each competitor. Ride On Video, based out of Los Angeles, was on hand throughout the event, capturing video of every competitor. They are producing a recap of the day, which will be available on Facebook and other social media sites.
In addition to the well-designed courses and smoothly run show, competitors were encouraged by the low cost of competing: each class cost just $30, or $50 per division. There is much interest in future competitions, and the organizers are working to secure new venues and dates, which will be announced via their Facebook page.
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