August 2015 - Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
Written by Stephanie Nicora
Monday, 03 August 2015 20:27
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West Coast eventers come out in force to be part of Camelot Equestrian Park’s first USEA-rated competition.

by Stephanie Nicora, reprinted courtesy of Eventing Nation • photos courtesy of MWM Photography

As most equestrians are aware, the loss of land is a serious problem when looking at the future of our sport. This is why the July 4th weekend in Northern California’s Butte Valley was so exciting — not only for Area VI, but for the future of eventing.

Carolyn Hoffos, of Copper Meadows fame, rides her daughter Taren Atkinson’s Limerick II over a Training Open course built by her son-in-law James Atkinson.

Preliminary Open contenders Max Gerdes & Rhythm Royale.

As the largest dedicated equestrian facility in the state with more than 1,600 acres, Camelot Equestrian Park is just getting its feet wet with US Eventing Association-rated competition, starting with the weekend’s Horse Trials. For years, Camelot Equestrian Park has held unrated events, perfect for young horses and riders to go out and get some experience. In fact, Camelot is where I took my OTTB to see if he enjoyed this eventing thing for his first outing. (Note: He loved it, especially the water complex). They have a three event series, open to riders Intro to Training, where the grand prize is a brand new saddle.

Having a recognized event has been in the plans for a long time. However, Area VI’s busy schedule and all the demands of creating a new event take time. When event organizer Louis Blankenship and Camelot’s owners, the Ballous, and the schooling series organizers, Terry Hilst, got together, they worked endlessly for a year and a half to get the event on the calendar and off the ground. “I’ve been incredibly lucky,” Louis said. “The entire area has really stepped in and helped out.”

Jessie Jellison and Oliver en route to winning the Novice Open division.

Camille the Camelot Dragon. Medieval motifs add to the fun throughout the Park.

Landing on Fourth of July weekend wasn’t their initial choice for a dream date of opening, but the team rolled with it, deciding to make this year a solid prep for Rebecca Farm for the Training and Preliminary levels. In addition, the competitors party was on Friday night so that everyone could enjoy the award-winning fireworks on Saturday night at Lake Oroville.

There was an FEI-style vet box with water and ice for the horses due to the predicted heat this time of the year. “The safety and comfort of the horses is paramount,” Louis said, and the Friday night party was set to be one for the books!

Lots Of Support

Louis is familiar to many West Coast events, announcing, evening terrain and driving water trucks — not just in Area VI, but in Colorado — and in late June, at Inavale, in Oregon. He has had almost every job you can have in eventing and credits that experience to being able to try his hand as an event organizer. “I’ve seen what works, what hasn’t worked, what the riders like, and more,” Louis said. “This is really a dream for us, and it’s just the beginning.”

Andrea Baxter rode two entries to a fifth place tie in Novice Open. She’s picturered with Laguna Seca and her other mount was Talladega, owned by Andrea’s mother and Twin Rivers partner, Connie Baxter.

Preliminary Open contenders Max Gerdes & Rhythm Royale.

Not only that, but Camelot is giving away great prizes — including $1,000 per division all the way through Intro. Other prizes included a full Revita-Vet system and a Devoucoux saddle, gift certificates to Ride On Video and APF products.

There was also Thoroughbred Incentive Program and LEGIS Optimum Time awards, and ribbons were awarded to 10th place. The West Coast’s support for the venue and the event was evident in a strong turn-out of competitors, volunteers, fans and supporters, including fellow event organizers and venue owners.

(Editor’s Note: The Copper Meadows clan of Carolyn Hoffos and James and Taren Atkinson travelled from their Ramona base in San Diego County, and Connie and Andrea Baxter were the bannerwomen from their Central California Paso Robles eventing kingdom, Twin Rivers.)

Despite all the stress of getting an event off the ground, Louis remarked, “I can’t say enough good stuff about it.” He started to list all the people he wanted to thank — but then quickly realized he would probably forget someone by accident. “Everyone has helped this happen,” he said. “The board of Area VI, Megan at USEF, Sheila in the main office, the board of Camelot Equestrian Park Foundation, everyone who has invited me to help with their event over the years — this is truly a community success.”

Spectators enjoy the view from the Camelot Tower.

Earl McFall and Dinero on their way to a fourth-place finish in Open Training.

But not all was over on Sunday! Louis and his crew planned to water and drag after the last horse, leave the flags up and leave the course open for schooling on Monday.

The cross-country course was designed by James Atkinson, who got to work with entirely different terrain. There is a 200-foot hill at the start of the Training and Preliminary courses, which have a 500-foot elevation hill change, something very atypical for Area VI. The stadium courses are by Jose Nava of Mexico, and Tremaine Cooper came out to do the inspections.

Most of the XC obstacles were built by Louis himself with the help of Danny Serafini. Going with the theme of Camelot, there is a tower (which spectators can climb and watch the event from!), battle-axes, swords and even a beer cooler that was to be filled during the event. Stadium jumps show off dragons and unicorns thanks to Donald Trotter of Sunsprite Warmbloods, who was also be a friendly familiar face in the warm-up rings.

Natalie Rooney & La Coura fly through Open Training.

Susan Garnier & Wintergreen Beaufort, who finished third in Open Novice.

The USEA recognized event only went to Preliminary this year, including Intro, FEH and YEH divisions. Plans to expand to include a Novice Three-Day as well as a Training Three-Day, plus an Intermediate course, are already underway for next year, along with adding more events to the calendar.

The Park has a five-year plan, with an FEI event hopefully by then, and a 10- and 15-year plan, so expect to hear more from this wonderful facility in the future. Planning for CCI level courses is already underway.
It is clear this is just the start for an amazing facility that is well on its way to becoming a destination event for the West Coast.

Go Camelot. Go Eventing!


For more information on competitions, clinics and events at Camelot Equestrian Park, visit Thanks again to and reporter Stephanie Nicora for permission to reprint this article!

Rebecca Braitling and Domina D’Revel, winners of the Open Training division.

Sixteen hundred acres make Camelot the largest equestrian facility in California and provide lots of room to roam on cross-country.

Camelot Equestrian Park Horse Trials Results

Preliminary – Open
1. Rebecca Braitling and Soaring Bird
2. Erin Serafini and Another Star
3. Jessie Deeter and RSG Cameo

Training – Jr/YR
1. Brianna Gamache and Free Rayn Majesty
2. Jena Tassone and Knight Changes
3. Hannah SeCoy and Sagewind Dakota Sunshine

Training – Open
1. Rebecca Braitling and Domina D’Revel
2. Marissa Nielsen and Vinetta M
3. Lauren Henry and CTR Stony Creek

Novice – Jr/YR
1. Kathryn Canario and Ringwood Little Imp
2. Meghan Lawrence and Shanghai DF
3. Rachael Tuscher and Fortunate Son

Novice – Open
1. Jessie Jellison and Oliver
2. Emilee Libby and Sunsprite’s Fleurette
3. Susan Garmier and Wintergreen Beaufort

Beginner Novice – Jr/YR
1. Jazmin Holguin and Winter’s Fable
2. Chance Solus and Foohtill’s Faithfilly
3. Electra Holberton and Expert Marksman

Introductory – Jr/YR
1. Naima Valentin and The Chestnut Special
2. Catherine Bonadio and Rio’s Dual Image
3. Bronte Smith and Deceptive Behavior

Introductory- Open
1. Shelby Jones and Divine Comedy
2. Thomas Johnson and Southern Intent
3. Marcy Payoyo and Kona Street