Organizers were forced to cancel the Fall Horse Trials at the Ark in Monroe, N.C., due to lack of entries. The event was scheduled for Oct. 13.
“We only had 23 entries at closing date,” said event organizer and secretary Abbey Dondanville. Dondanville added that she expected about 125 horses to run at the competition. Typically 60-80 people enter before the closing date and another 50 enter late.
The owner of the farm, Jeff Wylie, will give full refunds, minus the office fee, to all riders who had entered and paid.
“[Wylie] absorbed all of the costs. The people who did enter are our most loyal competitors,” Dondanville said. “I don’t think people understand how much money is spent before opening day. Not just eventing—hunters and dressage too.”
The event was also to serve as the final point-earning competition for the North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Eventing Championships. Without the Ark fall event, the point-earning season has concluded.
The lack of entries came as a complete surprise to Dondanville. The Spring Horse Trials at the Ark had more entries than ever before, and schooling shows this year were overbooked, she said.
Dondanville said she thinks the fact that the Nutrena/USEA American Eventing Championships (Ga.) were held just a little more than one month before the Fall Horse Trials at the Ark contributed to lower entries.
“Whatever region [the AECs are] in, for about a month after you see decreased numbers,” she said, adding that many people simply cannot afford to compete in both. She hopes that numbers will be better next year with the AECs moving to Texas.
The next event at the Ark is scheduled for March 30, 2013, and will offer all of their normal perks, including a dinner for competitors, a raffle, a team challenge, prizes and free schooling for competitors on Sunday.
“We’re really trying to keep costs down for the competitor,” said Dondanville. “Our story is not unique when it comes to events across the country.”