February 2017 - Eye on Eventing: Let’s Get This Party Started!
Written by Lauren Billys
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 07:38

Area VI’s annual awards banquet & meeting is a fun and inspiring way to start the new season.

by Lauren Billys

The show season is quickly approaching for all of us. For eventers of this area, the beginning of a new show season also means the finale of the 2016 season as well. In the beginning of each year, US Eventing Association’s Area VI hosts an award ceremony to celebrate the triumphs of the past year. This party also serves as an inspirational start to the new competition season.

This year the Area VI Awards Banquet will be held at Fresno County Horse Park on Feb. 18, during their first FEI competition of the year. The banquet is part of the Annual Meeting, which runs Feb. 17-20, concurrent with the competition.

I can very clearly remember my first Area VI Awards Banquet. It was in 2010 and Hawley Bennett-Awad was the featured speaker. I was receiving my first ever award for my riding and I couldn’t have been prouder to attend this event. My mom and I drove down to Galway Downs, we bought our tickets in advance, and we dressed up for that night.

Hawley spoke about her dreams to compete on the international stage as a junior rider, and the way she fought to get to the top. She spoke about the triumphs and disappointments along the way, and how competing at the top level had shaped her future. After countless horse shows where I had seen Hawley at the barns, in the warm-ups and riding horses, I finally heard her story. To say the least, I was inspired. That evening truly lit a fire in me to experience what Hawley was sharing with us.

After a fun dinner, an amazing silent auction, and hearing from Hawley, awards were given to riders of every level. Each type of rider from juniors to professionals and Introductory level to Advanced were celebrated. How inspiring to see all levels of our sport growing and the inspirational successes of each rider!

This year, at Fresno County Horse Park, I will be part of a three-person panel to talk about my experiences at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I will be sharing this panel with Tamra Smith and Bunnie Sexton.

Tamra Smith had a unique year by traveling to Europe with three horses for the fall season to compete at the Le Lion 6 and 7 year olds’ eventing championships, Boekelo CCI3* and Blenheim CCI3*. Bunnie Sexton also took her riding to a new level in 2016 by competing at Rolex Kentucky CCI4* and at the Burghley CCI4* as well. I am honored to be sitting on a panel with these amazing women to share how Area VI has catapulted us into these international events.

During this evening, there will be a dinner served, an awards ceremony, and a silent auction to benefit Area VI Young Riders.

The Area VI Awards Banquet is an event I truly look forward to in the beginning of each year. The evening is inspirational and a unique celebration for our area that highlights each level of rider. To get more information about attending this event, please visit www.AreaVI.org and click on “Area VI Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet 2017” in the lower right column.

I look forward to seeing all of you there and letting this serve as a fun start to our 2017 competition season!

USEA Area VI Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet: Feb. 17-19

Held concurrent with the Horse Trials and CIC at the Fresno County Horsepark Feb. 17-19, the festivities begin Friday with a course walk with Rodney Powell. This will likely be mid-day, depending on rider’s ride times. That evening, it’s a screening of the Harry & the Snowman movie that is free to all, including the general public, thanks to the Friends of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Donations are welcome. The banquet is sponsored by longtime Area VI sponsor Professional’s Choice. The special discussion with Lauren, Tamie Smith and Bunnie Sexton will be held during the banquet. Banquet tickets are included in CIC and HT entries and extra tickets are $50. 
For more info, visit www.areavi.org and we look forward to seeing you there!

Columnist Lauren Billys contested the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on behalf of Puerto Rico, and has written about that remarkable experience for us since early 2016. She continues to compete and is accepting students and horses at Lauren Billys Eventing on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit www.laurenbillys.com for more info.