The Omaha Equestrian Foundation (OEF), a certified 501(c)3 not-for-profit foundation that strives to raise the level of horse sport in the Midwest, create positive economic impact in the area and provide one-of-a-kind educational experiences, is fulfilling its mission in a big way.
Raising the Level of Horse Sport: the ‘Midwest’s Biggest Horse Event’
The showcase of OEF’s programs is the International Omaha, a nationally sanctioned equestrian show jumping and dressage experience that combines high-level competition with educational activities designed to engage and entertain the whole family. The successful growth of this event helped secure the bid to host the highly acclaimed 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals which brought athletes and fans from all across the globe and established the city of Omaha firmly on the equestrian map.
Now the Midwest’s ‘Biggest Horse Event,’ the 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha returns April 4-7 at CHI Health Center Arena and Convention Center. Featuring top-class competition, highlights include the $100,000 Grand Prix in jumping, the $100,000 InIt2WinIt Speed Jumping Series Final, and the $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge in which six teams compete in a Grand Prix and Freestyle. Team members can be Senior, Amateur, Youth, or Para. This is the first time ever that Para has been included with other divisions in a Dressage team competition. In fact, having a Para rider on each team is mandatory. Also new for 2019, the event has expanded its schedule to include Open Jumper classes and lower level dressage classes so riders can earn qualifying scores for Regional competitions.
In addition, International Omaha offers free demonstrations and unique learning opportunities from some of the world’s most respected trainers. Jumping and dressage riders from all over the Midwest are given the opportunity to apply to ride with international horse experts. Last year’s featured experts were Olympic Silver Medalist and famed equestrian coach, George Morris, and dressage Olympic Gold medalist Hubertus Schmidt of Germany. Morris, who is returning again this year to headline the Educational Showcase on Friday, April 5, will be joined by internationally known dressage rider and trainer, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, who was a member of the U.S. Dressage Team at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games™ and trains with Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Carl Hester of Great Britain. Both showcase experts will also give free demo/mini clinics in the “Horse Discovery Zone.”
Olympic Silver Medalist and famed equestrian coach, George Morris, who is returning for this year's Educational Showcase
“We are really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve since the OEF’s inception in 2010,” said Lisa Roskens, founder and chairman of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation. “Although the Midwest part of the country has a rich equestrian history, there has been a void at the top end of the sport. With the International Omaha we are erasing that void by offering programs to help elevate the level of the sport in the Midwest, provide education which has always been a focus of our mission, and also give back to the community.”
Investing in Equestrian Education: Partnerships, Scholarships and Grants
The OEF has partnered with the Metropolitan Community College to offer Horse Course 101 and 102 classes to introduce students to horses and careers in the equine industry, both of which have been extremely popular. An “equine certification” program will be launched in 2019 and will include an internship for those who complete the course. The goal for the equine education and certification program is to help students secure internships and professional career opportunities in the equine industry.
The Felice Rose Scholarship is a grant sponsored by the OEF to give one Region 4 dressage rider the opportunity to shadow and train with a CDI competitor throughout the International Omaha competition. Last year, the scholarship covered stabling costs and training session expenses that took place during the competition with CDI competitor Karen Pavicic. In addition, the recipient received two Dressage All-Session Tickets.
The OEF Grant is an open-ended application without parameters, with the goal of helping to improve and grow equestrian sport in the Midwest. Last year, an OEF Grant was given to an individual seeking her USDF Trainer Certification and also to a young woman who was unable to continue riding due to a divorce, and who volunteered nearly 900 hours at an equine therapy program just to be around horses.
Community: Free Field Trips for Children
Over 20,000 fans from 35 states and four foreign countries attended the 2018 International Omaha and the OEF hosted over 3,200 children on free field trips during the event. School children experienced educational exhibits, live demonstrations and exciting competition. Each student received a free activity book filled with information about horses, the science of horses, careers in the horse industry, fun games, and ticket vouchers good for free admissions for their families to attend International Omaha. The foundation received over 300 thank you cards from these children!
“Salute to Military, Veterans, and First Responders Night” at the International Omaha
To recognize the community’s brave men and women, the OEF distributed several thousand free tickets to military members, veterans, first responders and their families to attend the 2018 International Omaha. The “Salute” featured three area non-profits that use horses in their work with military members and veterans. Jimmy Weber and the Sarpy Serenaders provided music and a tribute to a Gold Star mother.
National Anthem Contest
Each year, local students have the opportunity to audition for the chance to perform the National Anthem at International Omaha. The winner of the anthem contest receives a $1,000 scholarship from Omaha Steaks. This year’s entries must be submitted by February 28. Contest details are available at: www.internationalomaha.com/anthem-contest.
Kids’ Art Contest
Children aged 8–12 who live in Omaha or the surrounding areas are invited to create their best piece of "horsey" artwork for the chance to have their artwork on the cover of the Kids’ Activity Book at International Omaha and receive tickets to the International Omaha Grand Prix! In addition, the Omaha Mounted Patrol hosts the winner’s class at their barn with a special visit to meet their horses, hear the history of the mounted patrol, watch demonstrations on horse sensory training, and have a group picture with the officers and horses. The cherry on top is that the class gets to enjoy limited edition Omaha '19 eCreamery ice cream! Entry information is available at: www.internationalomaha.com/kids-art-contest.
Free Horse Discovery Zone at International Omaha
Grown-ups and children alike can wander through the Horse Discovery Zone (Education Expo) free of charge all weekend long at International Omaha to learn about the equine industry, health and science of horse management, and the unique aspects of various breeds in International Omaha’s Gallery of Breeds exhibit. Children have a chance to jump over rails, braid horse tails and discover interesting facts like why horses can’t throw up. The Discovery Zone also includes the competition warm-up area so children can watch the athletes prepare before they go into the competition arena.
If you'd like to donate to the Omaha Equestrian Foundation to support the International Omaha: donate here online or mail to Omaha Equestrian Foundation, 1004 Farnam Street, Suite 100, Omaha, NE 68102.
About 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha
The International Omaha is not your ordinary horse show. Everything is under one roof – stabling, warm-up, competition arena, educational and exhibit area, demonstrations, dining venues, and fantastic shopping opportunities. It’s where the American tailgate experience meets European sophistication, and a chance to see and meet some of the finest equestrians and horses in the world. It’s where friends gather to socialize, shop, dine, party, and watch some of the best horses and riders in the Midwest compete for top prizes.
Ticketing information including hospitality and VIP packages are available at www.internationalomaha.com.
Sponsorships that help support OEF’s charitable programs are still available. Please contact Mike West at email@example.com to learn more about how to get involved with the ‘Midwest’s Largest Horse Event.’