Highlights Included Equestrian Competition and Community Support Assisting Nebraska Flood Relief,
Inmate Programs, Salutes to Military and Programs for Children
Over 22,000 people flocked to the 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha, the ‘Midwest’s Largest Horse Event,’ where visitors were treated to exciting jumping and dressage competitions, an Educational Showcase, demonstrations, boutique shopping, dining, entertainment, and so much more. Produced by the Omaha Equestrian Foundation (OEF), the seventh annual event was held April 4-7 at the CHI Health Center Omaha, and OEF conducted several programs in support of the local community that added meaning to the outstanding competition.
This year’s Burlington Capital International Omaha hosted national and international jumping and dressage athletes who competed for top prize money in a variety of highlighted competitions including the $100,000 International Omaha Grand Prix, the $100,000 InIt2WinIt Speed Jumping Series Final, and the new $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge. Open jumper classes and lower level dressage classes were added to this year’s schedule to enable local riders to earn qualifying scores for Regional competitions.
“Part of the mission of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation is to raise the level of equestrian sports in the Midwest,” said OEF Chairman Lisa Roskens. “Equally important, however, is providing support to charities and to our local community. I think we did that in a variety of ways this year.”
Mathis Schwentker and NKH Carrido won the $100,000 International Omaha Grand Prix (c)Lili Weik Photography
It was a weekend of celebration for Germany’s Mathis Schwentker who enjoyed back-to-back triumphs as he and NKH Caruso claimed victory before a crowd of 4,549 in the culminating $100,000 International Omaha Grand Prix. The night before, a crowd of 4,623 spectators – including Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert – watched the pair win the $100,000 RFD-TV InIt2Winit Speed Jumping Series Championship, where Schwentker also took second place aboard NKH Carrido.
The new $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge, presented by Rowan O'Riley and Mission Control, featured teams comprising a Senior or Amateur rider paired with a Youth (Junior or Young Rider) and a Para rider. After two days of competition, it was the team of Senior rider Karen Pavicic (a 2014 World Equestrian Games veteran), Young Rider Tillie Jones (a multiple medalist in the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships who hails from Lincoln, Nebraska), and Para rider Kate Shoemaker (Individual Bronze medalist at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ who is currently ranked number 2 in the world in Para Grade IV) who claimed victory with a team score of 69.416.
The team of Karen Pavicic, Kate Shoemaker and Tillie Jones won the $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge (c)Lili Weik Photography
Supporting the Community
The OEF is 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, support charitable efforts and provide one-of-a-kind educational experiences.
At this year’s event, OEF hosted 4,500 school children on free field trips to International Omaha where they got to experience educational exhibits, live demonstrations and exciting competition. OEF also distributed several thousand free tickets to military members, veterans, first responders and their families to attend the International Omaha. The “Salute to Military, Veterans, and First Responders Night” featured area non-profits that use horses in their work with military members and veterans as well as a tribute to a Gold Star mother.
(c)Lili Weik Photography
The Dressage Foundation Educational Showcase featured Show Jumping Hall of Famer and famed equestrian coach, George Morris, and 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™. In what may be the first clinic for both equitation and dressage, Morris and Bateson-Chandler worked with equitation riders Sydney Hott of Defiance, MO; Sydney Kinstler of Overland Park, KS; Ainsley Wade of St. Louis, MO; and Mary Roskens of Omaha, NE; and dressage riders Missy Fladland of Griswold, IA and Gracia Huenefeld of Lincoln, NE. Both experts also gave free demonstrations and mini-clinics in the “Triple Crown Horse Discovery Zone” throughout the weekend, making their expertise available to virtually anyone who wanted to watch.
Horse Coolers Made by Inmates in Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
In cooperation with Cornhusker State Industries (CSI), a self-sustaining program within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) that helps prepare inmates for successful reentry back into the community, the OEF used horse coolers made by inmates as part of the awards presented to competition winners at the 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha.
"The CSI program does a phenomenal job of providing training for CSI inmates and developing opportunities for them to be able to find employment upon release," said Roskens. "Our foundation is committed to helping the community in many different ways and we believe that this way has a direct impact on many who will benefit from our help.
"Before agreeing to use the coolers at our event, I wanted to be sure that they would be of the quality that our riders expect. I was very impressed with the quality of the work and I have been getting great feedback. We are honored to support the great work being done by CSI in assisting these inmates and helping to prepare them for their return to the general community."
"Ninety-three percent of incarcerated individuals in NDCS will eventually return to our communities," said Jeremy Elder, deputy director for industries. "The role of CSI is to provide work skills, training, education and certifications that will help people upon reentry. We thank Lisa Roskens and the Omaha Equestrian Foundation for supporting our program and providing this unique opportunity."
Nebraska Flood Relief
OEF offered several ways for visitors to donate to Nebraska Flood Relief to help victims recover from damages caused by the recent catastrophic flooding in Nebraska. OEF hosted an online silent auction, provided a donate button on the event website and also hosted an informal “Pass the Boot” during the event where anyone in the stands could make a contribution no matter how big or small.
Led by an initial group of four show jumping riders from Texas, many of the riders that competed at this year’s event chose to donate a percentage of their winnings to the effort. The initial group that started the movement included Matt Cyphert, Christian Heineking, Trapp O'Neal and Frank Owens.
“We all want to support our friends and fellow horsemen in Nebraska during this difficult time,” said Cyphert. “We have enjoyed the hospitality of Nebraskans at the International Omaha over the years and we wanted to do something to help with the flood relief efforts in some meaningful way.”
Following their lead, several other riders joined this great movement in support of the Cornhusker state including the winning dressage team of Karen Pavicic, Tillie Jones and Kate Shoemaker.
"We've all heard about the devastating floods that they've had here and we know it's been very challenging for the community so we feel that this is something that we can do to help,” remarked the dressage riders. “We also want to thank Lisa Roskens, as well as Fair Sky Farm and Rowan O'Riley and Becky Reno of Mission Control, for having this event and hosting us here. We truly appreciate it."
Donations to the Nebraska Flood Relief effort can be made through the International Omaha website here.