MTPC Horse Trials

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Article & photos by LaCresha Kolba

Middle Tennessee Pony Club held their 63rd annual Horse Trials at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN October 10-11, 2015. Riders had great weather and excellent conditions to ride the hills and rolling terrain around the Steeplechase grounds. With 160 horses competing, Dressage and Cross Country ran on Saturday, with Stadium on Sunday.  There were three Dressage arenas going at the same time.  Then riders had a break before their Cross Country runs.

Learning to compete at an event such as this, hosted by Middle Tennessee Pony Club, takes a lot of time and dedication since one has to learn three disciplines: dressage, cross country riding, and stadium jumping. One needs a trainer to help prepare and train for the rigorous competition. One of the premiere eventing trainers in Middle Tennessee, Bill Hoos, talked about his experience with horses and his training methods. 

Bill Hoos has been competiting since he was very young, and he got serious about training horses by the time he was 25.  Growing up he rode jumpers, and now, with his wife Lori, they train Eventing horses, Hunters, Jumpers, and Dressage at their barn Wil-lo Blue Farm in Franklin, TN.  Bill got interested eventing when he started riding with a local pony club in New York.  Once he moved to Tennessee, it was a natural transition to continue being involved with Pony Club and to event. Bill has a long list of equestrian accomplishments: 1996 USCTA Intermediate Horse of the Year and Rider of the Year for Area III on Lucien Prince; 1999 High Point Arabian Sport Horse Association Inc. Trainer Award for Eventing/Combined Training; 2002 named First Alternate for the US Equestrian Team winter training sessions, riding Celtic Cross; 2004 trained with the US Equestrian Team for World Games on Celtic Cross; he is also a USEA ICP Level IV Certified Instructor.

With someone of this caliber of equestrian experience and knowledge, we wanted to find out what it takes for the horse and rider to get to achieve their riding goals. What does it take to make for a good dressage horse? Bill told us it needs to start with the horse’s brain, and then with the movement. Some breeds tend to be better at Dressage. For example, Warmbloods are stronger, and the breed has been developed to perform the dressage movements well. 

What about a Cross Country horse?  “When it comes to a Cross Country horse, they absolutely have to jump well, have speed, and be brave. No one factor out weights the other. If you are lacking one, you don’t want it,” Bill explained.  Considering how quickly one has to sprint from jump to jump and take a variety of daunting jumps that are constructed quite differently from one another, bravery absolutely makes sense in your equine companion. 

For a three day eventing horse, Bill said the horse needs to have all the pieces. The horse has to do Dressage well, be strong in jumping and speed. If not, you will be left behind. Cross Country is now more technical. A course used to be 24 to 25 fences spread out; now there are more combinations and turns, with several fences that must be jumped in precise sequence.

Preparing to train or to compete, know your horse, and set up your training based on the horse’s personality and ability and the competition you are preparing for.  A Dressage horse may need 30-40 minutes in warm up; a seasoned Cross Country horse can do some quick warm-up jumps, and then go out and train. If you find your horse is tight in the back, change your warm up.  Do what is best for the animal and you will get the optimum results. 

In Hoos’ training program, Bill and his staff strive to keep their horses fresh by giving them a day off, watching them carefully, going out for a hack, and being consistent with their extensive veterinary care.

If you are seeking an eventing trainer, Bill recommends you find someone with whom you comfortable. He suggests you ask around, research their experiences and their reputation. Consider how they can help you become successful and productive, then maybe their program will work for you. See if it will be the right fit for you. State your goals and be definitive about where you want to go with your riding. Then factor in the cost and make sure it is something affordable for you.  Once you find a trainer that fits your needs, then you dedicate yourself to that craft.  If your goals change, communicate that to the trainer so they can help keep you on task with what you want to accomplish.

For more information on Bill Hoos and his training program at Wil-lo Blue Farm in Franklin, TN visit their website:

From Meredith Tipton

River Run Eventing took a group to the MTPC horse trials and had several riders come home with ribbons.

~ 13 year old Sydney Doss and Road Less Traveled finished 6th in Jr. Novice. 16 year old Cassidy Doss and Piano Blues finished 9th in Jr. Novice. 

~12 year old Julia Jennings and One Under Par finished 5th in Jr. Beginner Novice. She also finished second at the Dunnabeck Horse Trials in Illinois in September. These placings have qualified Julia and One Under Par for the American Eventing Championships to be held next Sept. in North Carolina.

~11 year old Cristen Cleaveland and Just Kidding competed in Jr. Beginner Novice.
~Caroline Weathers and My Alibi finished 4th in Jr. Starter. 

Pony Club was well represented, with from Southern Run Pony Club and West Tennessee Pony Club competing at MTPC Horse Trials.

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