Lory State Park reopens equestrian cross country course

On Sept. 20 beginning at 9 a.m., Lory State Park will celebrate the reopening of the Equestrian Cross Country Course that was destroyed by the Galena Fire in March 2013.

The public is invited to view the ceremonies, which will include a short re-dedication, as well as demonstration rides by local and regional riders over the newly rebuilt series of jumps. This practice and training course is open year round for use by the public, and is the only facility of its kind at any Colorado State Park.

The original course began construction in November 1978, with interest and support from the Centennial Pony Club and the Northern Colorado chapter of the Mountain States Combined Training Association. Over the years, the original 17 obstacles grew to nearly 60 jumps, with additional help from various volunteer groups that included the English Riding Club from Colorado State University. Pony Club rallies and associated cross-country events for youth and adult riders were staged in the South Valley of Lory State Park.

Although the Galena Fire was fast-moving and short-lived, it lingered long enough to burn all the wooden jumps, dropping nails, bolts and strapping hardware straight to the ground with the ashes.

With top-down support from Lory State Park Manager Larry Butterfield, insurance money to replace materials, a generous $8,000 grant from the Colorado Parks Foundation, and volunteer coordination from the Friends of Lory State Park, rebuilding efforts began in earnest in January 2014. The grant money allowed the park to hire renowned course designer and high-level rider James Atkinson (who also is involved with the Colorado Horse Park in Parker) to assist with course design and jump placement.

Assisted by Dan Michaels from the Mountain States Eventing Association (formerly MSCTA), Atkinson held a two-day workshop at the park in January 2014, to demonstrate jump building to a group of hardcore volunteers mustered by the Friends group. All jumps were designed to be portable for easy course placement, and have been built to design standards specified by the U.S. Eventing Association.

Over the past 20 months, volunteers cleaned out the burned sites, removed the dangerous debris and hardware, and rebuilt more than 50 jumps. There are 12 styles of portable jumps, including log piles, log ramps, log cabins (with faux doors and windows!), bunkers, rolltops, corner jumps, trakehners and picnic tables (which occasional hikers are unknowingly using as, well, picnic tables.) There are at least four of each style in the field course, corresponding to the first four USEA rider levels: Intro (or Beginner), Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training – with jump heights ranging from 24 to 39 inches.

Please join the Friends of Lory State Park and the Staff of Lory State Park on Sept. 20 as we thank the Colorado Parks Foundation, the many individual volunteers; several key Eagle Scouts; groups such as Otter Cares, the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the CSU English Riding Club, the Colorado Addicted Trailbuilders Society, the Overland Mountain Bike Club and the Mountain States Eventing Association. And bring your horses!

View video of horse on course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dC9raNUgIw (Thanks to Glen Akins.)

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