Inavale Horse Trials Draw Thousands

horse-jumpingThe 19th annual Inavale Horse Trials will be held the weekend of Friday, June 24 at Inavale Farm. The Trials will include competitors from all over the Pacific Northwest, set to participate in introductory to intermediate levels.

The Inavale Trials will involve three phases: dressage, show-jumping, and cross-country. Every competitor, no matter their riding ability or competing level, must complete each phase. The height of the jumps and complexity of combinations vary according to the level of competition.

Dressage has been described as ballet completed on horseback. The horse and rider struggle to achieve a harmony of communication while completing a set series of tasks. Judges award points to the rider for every prescribed movement that they successfully complete. At the end of the event, the judges tally the points lost to mistakes, or “faults,” and this becomes the rider’s score.

The rider carries this score forward into cross-country. The complexity of navigating sometimes very large, confusing obstacles at speed makes this the most dangerous event of the Trials, but also the most exciting. Riders are penalized for a horse’s refusal to jump, called a “run-out,” or for falls, or if they come in under the posted time limit.

Finally, show-jumping requires horse and rider to complete a much shorter, yet equally challenging series of jumps. Riders must adjust their horse’s stride at the canter to cover the distance to jumps within a very tight time limit. As with any horse trials, the rider of each level with the lowest number of points at the end of the day wins.

Point person Emily Bucholtz explained, “This is a USEA [United States Eventing Association] recognized event. That means that officials with those judging designations come in and officiate the event.”

The Inavale Trials is expecting 240 competing teams this year; that means around 210 riders, as some bring and compete on more than one horse.

Bucholtz added proudly, “We are the only recognized event in the state of Oregon.” For this reason, Inavale expects over a thousand spectators to appear over the course of the three days.

Carolyn and Luigi Meneghelli, the event organizers, build all of their own cross-country jumps, and 90% of the flowers attached to the stadium jumps are home-grown. This is bound to be an exciting, high-spirited day, and it is absolutely free to spectators.

For more information, including the tentative schedule, visit

By Ariadne Wolf