Over 200 horses and riders will compete Friday through Sunday at Deep Creek Farm near Medical Lake for one of the Northwest’s largest combined training events.
Combined training, also known as eventing, tests the horses’ all-round ability through three different disciplines: dressage, stadium jumping and cross country.
“It’s like a triathlon for horses,” said Cindy Burge-Chalmers, organizer of the Deep Creek Horse Trials.
In dressage, the horse and rider perform a complex, standardized pattern of movements demonstrating all the horse’s gaits. Burge-Chalmers compares the five-minute program of 15 parts to the mandatory school figures required of figure skaters in their short program.
Stadium jumping requires the competitors to leap a series of rail fences, painted walls, gates and barrels set up in an enclosed arena. Twelve to 15 barriers of different heights and widths are set up singly and in varying combinations. The course must be successfully negotiated within a set optimum time to avoid penalty points.
For the cross country phase, horse and rider leave the arena to run a 2 to 2 mile course over the fields. The course includes 18 to 22 obstacles, including ditches, water, banks and fences. An optimum time is also the goal for this test of stamina and skill.
Judges score each event, and the horse which has collected the fewest points overall wins.
Riders of all ages and skill levels, from local pony club members to members of the U.S. Olympic team, will be represented at the Deep Creek Horse Trials.
In addition to the equestrian events, Deep Creek Farm will offer a trade show, a food court, pony rides for the kids and live music, all in what Burge-Chalmers calls “a lovely outdoor setting.”
To check out this example of the fastest-growing horse sport in the country, head west on Highway 2 to Deep Creek Road (2 miles past the main entrance to Fairchild Air Force Base), and turn right. Deep Creek Farm is located two miles down Deep Creek Road on the left side of the road. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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