By: Shannon Habenicht
Photos: Allie Conrad Photography
The Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, NC is second its second annual War Horse Event Series (WHES) this summer. The first event kicked off the weekend of May 14-15 and already the series promises to be a competitive and highly exciting one! With five events involved in the series - May, June, July, October, and November - there are plenty of opportunities for the riders and horses to make it to one of the events. The WHES first began several years ago, but in 2014 Dr. Tom Daniel of Southern Pines Equine Associates got involved and re-focused the event. The series now benefits a local military organization. Warrior's Claim, which helps returning soldiers reconnect with their families through equine therapy. Warriors Claim also supports another amazing cause by using rescued Thoroughbreds from the Canter Mid-Atlantic program in their therapy program! The name 'War Horse' comes from the long tradition of horses being used in the military. "Horses had to be sound and sane, day after day in combat, eventing has the same principles - your horse must be sound and ready to perform three different phases of competition." explains Dr. Daniel.
Luitpold Animal Health, maker of Adequan(R) i.m. (plysulfated glycosaminoglycan). is once again a Title Sponsor along with Southern Pines Equine Associates; Merial (produces Gastroguard and Legend) is a new Presenting Sponsor starting this year. This series is not sanctioned by the USEA for several key reasons, first this series allows schooling all three phases the day before each event. There are also "Green as Grass" and "Maiden" divisions that you will not find at USEA events. These decisions were made by the event committee in order to allow younger riders and horses the opportunity to ride at a competitive event, while still providing them with a safe, educational, and fun environment. Maureen Grippa, Executive Director of the Carolina Horse Park, is thrilled with the series, "The War Horse Event Series is the first of its kind offering young riders and horses to school over the very course they will be competing on the next day - a concept originated by Marc Donovan. The series caters to the amateurs and provides them the same professional competition venue as if it were a recognized event, including prize money and an incredible variety of sponsored awards. The Park has an amazing team dedicated to ensuring a experience to all our competitors!"
Marc Donovan also states the CHP is committed to furthering the concept that riders can educate themselves and their horses through the competition process. Their focus is to keep the sport moving in an upward direction by encouraging everyone involved to up their game, learn, and improve their skills on horseback. As Marc says, "We want the quality of horsemanship to be higher and the sport of Eventing to be viewed by the entire equestrian community as a viable channel for horses. The levels we offer at WHES are the foundation of the sport. Each competition has a brand new XC course and the courses are challenging, but fair. It's all about training horses and educating riders. Our belief is that if we start with a solid foundation we can help to build a strong sport."
The War Horse has over $20,000 in cash, prizes and sponsorships for their November Championships. There are five divisions, ranging from Green as Grass at 18" through Training at 3'3". Each division will have the same prizes - everyone is treated the same here. There are prize packages for every rider that place first through sixth at the championship, that's 30 prizes to give away! "We feel that is you are riding at the Maiden level, the work and effort you give to your sport isn’t any less than the effort given at Training level. Every rider works hard and deserves to be rewarded for their time and success," states Dr. Jim Hamilton. In order to be invited to the November Championship, a rider must show at one of the first four events and place between first and sixth place. Riders are welcome to simply show at the championship show, but they will not be included in the championship classes unless they qualify. Riders are also able to ride dressage only and take place in combined training at all of the events.
Another exciting opportunity it the Second Chance Award that highlights rescued horses and OTTB's. This prize if for horses that are being retrained for a new discipline, such as a rescue horse getting into eventing. Any OTTB that has acquired a TIP number (to obtain your TIP number visit www.tjctip.com) OR and rescue horse with adoption papers from a recognized organization is eligible. This award offers a huge prize package worth over $2,000, which last year included a bag of feed a week, a saddle fitting, Adequan products and a scoping by Southern Pines Equine Associates. There have been some additions to the 2016 series, including a hospitality tent set up ringside with drinks and snacks throughout the weekend. Providing a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere is at the top of the WHES committee's "to do" list. The Carolina Horse Park anticipates over 1,000 competitors throughout the series with up to 250 entries per event.
Dr. Tom Daniel, Dr. Jim Hamilton, Marc Donovan and Maureen Grippa are the key members of the event committee for the War Horse Event Series. Marc Donovan has worked with CHP since 2013, and is a USEF "R" rated show jumping course designer creating courses at CHP, in addition to the AEC's and many FEI events. Maureen Grippa has been Executive Director with CHP for two years, after a lifetime with horses and an accounting career. Maureen and her husband, Paul, actively compete in Combined Driving Events. Since 1989, Dr. Daniel has been practicing in Southern Pines and in 1995 became partners with Dr. James Hamilton at Southern Pines Equine Associates. To learn more about the War Horse Event Series, visit www.carolinahorsepark.com. To learn more about Southern Pines Equine Associates, visit www.spequine.com
Click here to see original article in the Sumer 2016 issue of The Carolinas Equestrian (pages 36-38).
The Carolinas Equestrian: "Kick On" at the War Horse Event Series
- Written by Abby
By: Shannon Habenicht