For the riders, organizers and volunteers of the 18th annual Inavale Horse Trials, it’s about family.
The three-day competition at Inavale Farm outside Philomath drew more than 300 riders ranging from ages 12 to 67 from all around the Pacific Northwest. The horse trials is a competition in the sport of combined training comprised of dressage (training), cross-country jumping and show jumping.
The Inavale Farm event is the only one in Oregon recognized through the U.S. Eventing Association, a national eventing education organization. Riders and their families and the horses’ owners battled the competition and the weather through the weekend with temperatures nearing 100 degrees Friday and rain and muddy courses Sunday.
Show jumping and cross-country can take several years to master, but the sweat and mud and pain fade away when the rider and horse become one, said 11-year volunteer Emily Bucholtz.
“For competition, when you get that perfect movement, it’s like floating on air,” Bucholtz said. “To have a connection with a horse is so special. That connection and partnership of a horse where it truly loves you and you truly love it, nothing compares to that.”
When Bucholtz first volunteered at the seventh annual horse trials, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream of hers to show off a horse in competition. Achieving a lifelong goal can often carry with it disappointment. But 11 years later, Bucholtz said it’s become “a better dream than anything I could’ve imagined.”
“My parents just hoped I would grow out of it and I never did,” Bucholtz said with a laugh. “When I finished paying my college loans, I realized time was limited. I believe you work hard to play today and dream for tomorrow. Well, I’m living that dream today.”
Bucholtz, an oncology pharmacist in Philomath, uses her week’s vacation to volunteer at the horse trials every year. It’s a lot of hard work, she said, but most of the time organizers, Caroline and Luigi Meneghelli, who own Inavale Farm, make the work feel like a vacation.
“This is family. Everyone of the hundreds of people here are family,” she said. “These are wonderful people and they’re amazing to work with. The longer I’ve been a part of this and the longer I’ve known Luigi and Caroline, the closer and more special it becomes.”
This year's trials were dedicated to the memory of the loss of a family member. Slick, The Meneghellis' event horse, died on the Monday following last year's event. Slick was the reason the Meneghellis got into event hosting 18 years ago.
Caroline Meneghelli described Slick as “a pretty face, a big heart, not much talent as a show horse, and a sizable loose screw in his head.”
“His loose screw rattled a bit right up till the end of his life, but I loved him anyway,” she wrote. “And indirectly, this little horse started everything.”
Luigi Meneghelli said Slick helped get them into event hosting, but it’s the volunteers, competitors and spectators that keep the event going each year.
“It’s a lot of work but we’ve got a family now,” he said. “We’re happy when the competitors are happy and we’ve seen a lot of smiles this weekend. A lot of sweat too, but a lot of happy faces.”
Friday-Sunday at Inavale Farm
Open Intermediate: 1. Karen O'Neal (Hollywood Diva), 34.4; 2. Andrea Nielsen (LC O’Shawnisee), 34.8
Open Preliminary Div. 1: 1. Marc Grandia (Severe Flying), 27.1; 2. Gary Mittleider (Semper Fidelis), 28.0
Open Preliminary Div. 2: 1. Kate Lathrop (Worth The Wait), 33.3; 2. Kelcie Rosendahl (Merry), 34.8
Jr/Young Rider Training: 1. Sophie Stephens (Naturally Seirian), 31.7; 2. Megan O’Brien (Ulysses), 45.7
Open Training Div. 1: 1. Karen O'Neal (Lifestyle S), 31.1; 2. Kate Petersen (Remy), 31.9
Open Training Div. 2: 1. Patricia Cava (Carter), 29.8; 2. Todd Trewin (Rightful Star), 32.1
Open Training Div. 3: 1. Louise Reulbach (Kaoimhe), 25.2; 2. Janice Ketsche (Trafalgar), 30.0
Training Jr.: 1. Sophie Hunt (Willow), 27.4; 2. Madison Langerak (Rouge Et Blac DF), 31.7
Jr/Young Rider Novice: 1. Stephanie Miller (Monkey See Monkey Do), 27.4
Novice Jr.: 1. Jenna Lounsbery (Dzhara), 26.7; 2. Helen Shell (Renaissance Man), 30.2
Open Novice Div. 1: 1. Sara Mittleider (La Paz), 21.7; 2. Sarah Petrek (Living Right), 30.0
Open Novice Div. 2: 1. Jordan Beckingham (Lionheart), 24.8; 2. Anna Stein (Astranamical), 26.5
Open Novice Div. 3: 1. Susan Presson (Sensational Scooby), 27.0; 2. Kari Wetherill (Auryn), 28.8
Beginner Novice Jr.: 1. Meira Rundhaug (Pacific Legacy), 25.8; 2. Azure Siraco (Bold n Royal), 26.1
Jr/Young Rider Beginner Novice: 1. Parker Wheeler (Into the Mystic), 33.2; 2. Shannon Ogus (Regal Courage), 39.3
Open Beginner Novice Div. 1: 1. Tanis Pearson (Acropolis), 26.3; 2. Ashley Loucks (Whiskey), 35.5
Open Beginner Novice Div. 2: 1. Elizabeth Gold (Miles Away), 29.7; 2. Aine Minihane (Tank), 29.9
Intro-Open Div. 1: 1. Kelsey Horn (Swingtown), 35.3; 2. Maggie Rikard (Paddy Jack), 40.5
Intro-Open Div. 2: 1. Jenna McFadden (Josee), 36.6; 2. Carolyn Colson (Tomahawk), 38.7
Intermediate: 1. Andrea Nielson (LC O’Shawnisee), Allison Sparks (Mystic Mojo), Louise Leslie (Santarae), 179.1
Preliminary: 1. Anna Collier (The Green Machine), Aimee Witherspoon (Chet the Jet), Maggie Rikard (Took A Chance), Ashley Colonel (Edmonde), 116.7; 2. Lisa Eppley (Sweet Basil), Cynthia Bayles (Accolade), Erika Graff (Fun and Games), Lorilee Hanson (Aliado), 158.7
Training: 1. Louise Reulbach (Kaoimhe), Tally Docken (Gryffindor), Kelsey Horn (Tomlong Ratatouille), John Meriwether (Ground Control), 100.8; 2. Stacie Ostasz (Just A Little Renegade), Carrie Hopper (Nickel Nickel), Dede Moore (Intuition), 124.2
Novice: 1. Susan Presson (Sensational Scooby), Tiffany Adams (Ragin Cajun), Kelsey Horn (Cincinnati), 108.6; 2. Jordan Beckingham (Lionheart), Clair Barnett (Silence in Seattle), Suzanne De Quilettes (Zephyros), Nicola Swanson (Pogo Moki), 111.6
BNovice: 1. Kady Ellifritz (Dear Henry), Kathryn Daniel (On Cloud Nine III), Bridget Brewer (FunnyMare.com), Megan Williams (Richie Dagger), 124.6; 2. Tanis Pearson (Acropolis), Shannon Ogus (Regal Courage), Genevieve Fame (Creme de la Crème), Hailey Graham (He's Dark N Handsome), 124.7