Wasatch Horse Shows – Bringing USEF Shows to “The Crossroads of the West”

By Irene Powlick

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Kaitlyn Truscott smiles big after a winning round in the Green Pony Hunter division at the Summer Classic II.

While the equestrian world is constantly changing and the USHJA continues to develop new programs, the small hunter/jumper circuit of Utah has made big changes, too. The Wasatch Horse Shows, formerly called the Alta Hills Farm shows, brought the first USEF/USHJA rated shows to the backwater circuit of the Utah Hunter Jumper Association (UHJA). March 31st marked the commencement of the first show put on by the new group, and brought the first USEF classes to Utah at the South Jordan Equestrian Center in South Jordan, Utah.


Flying Expectations soars in the Modified Children’s Jumpers with rider/owner Kaitlyn Truscott at the Wasatch Fall Classic, held in the covered and indoor arenas.

The goal for Wasatch Horse Shows was to bring USEF rated shows to people in our state who could not afford to travel to the shows that normally cost at least $1,500 a week, and to attract  those from other states to the destination show in Salt Lake City. These ideas revolve around the hopes of becoming a staple on the western show circuit, and to continue to attract more participants, horses, spectators, and income for both the shows and the surrounding community, which will also benefit from having out of town competitors staying in the area. The family orientated way of living that dominates the Utah landscape can often hinder a rider’s ability to travel to big shows. With the addition of the Wasatch Horse Shows, riders will have the opportunity to rack up points, not only with the local UHJA circuit, but also the zone HOTY awards and Stirrup Cup awards.


The entire Trussell family came to the show to watch their mother, Megan, compete in the $2,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at sunset.

Wasatch Horse Shows has worked hard to bring a combination of family-friendly, non-rated divisions together with serious, rated classes that often include other qualifying opportunities, like the NAL classics and newly offered medal classes. Thanks to the many sponsors and the hard work of the management team at WHS, classes including the THIS Children’s Medal, USEF/PESSOA Medal, NAL Classics, and WIHS Equitation classes have all been added, along with common favorite, the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which has offered the most prize money ever given in the history of the hunter/jumper world of Utah.


Megan Richardson and Birmingham jump to win the blue ribbon in the Performance Hunters 3’3″.

The reaction to the new show series wasn’t always the most positive, but throughout the year the shows have gained momentum and continued to attract more competitors. Slowly, they are also attracting trainers from other states, which has been the ultimate goal. Kimberley Koch and her barn, Cottonwood Creek Farm, came for the Summer Classic IV. Koch brought six horses down from Hailey, Idaho to compete in a variety of classes, including Kristin Thornton’s, of K.M. Thornton & Co. Consulting, personal horse Fantastic Mr. Fox. Koch had great results throughout the week for clients, including top placings in the Hunter Derby and Hunter Classics.


Kristin Thornton’s Fantastic Mr. Fox completes his round with trainer, Kimberley Koch, in the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby during the Summer Classic IV.

“I have never felt so welcome at a show; it was as if we had a personal concierge,” Thornton said of the hospitality and welcoming reception of show staff, especially the Show Manager and Secretary, Holly Dwyer. Dwyer gave information and helped make arrangements for many aspects of their trip, including information on braiding, stabling, and feed. All of which resulted in a great trip for the Idaho based barn.


Amateur rider Amy Brubaker and trainer Jodi Ray hug after a successful two weeks of showing during the Summer Classics I & II. Jodi’s barn and clients have been a staple during the Wasatch Horse Show series, earning many blue ribbons and winning two of the three large money National Hunter Derbies.

Trainers from across the Salt Lake valley have echoed the ideas and goals of the show management, and have big hopes for the competition and development of the show series. Kelsey Perkins, who trains out of Bluffdale, Utah, a suburb about 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake, summed up her thoughts in a simple way. “I am all about supporting bigger and better improvements for the horse world in Utah.” This understanding between riders, trainers, owners, parents, show staff, and managers is the key to success for the Wasatch Horse Shows. To bring together a showing community that is welcome to new ideas and improvements is the ultimate path to success for the future of the Utah rated shows.


Megan Richardson and her own Birmingham head to the in gate with the infamous Salt Lake City backdrops of the mountains. Richardson went on to win the inaugural USHJA National Hunter Derby during the second week of competition during the summer.

Riders and trainers, alike, have also commented on the atmosphere of the shows. The summer shows being held on the grass “polo” field at the front of the horse park creates a fun vibe, and the camaraderie of trainers and riders throughout the circuit gives it a familial quality. Riders enjoy having multiple rings to compete in, trainers enjoy the flexibility given to them by the ring managers when needed, and the horses enjoy the calm atmosphere of a “B” show. Another highlight is the food. Thanks to the executive chef, daily specials are offered up along with regular menu items, and all of it is cooked to order.


Gabriella Zupancic gives her praise to her own Swagger after winning the Children’s Hunter Championship during week IV of the Summer Classics.


Megan Richardson and Pony Lane Farm owned Francesca await their rounds in the Performance Hunters 3’3″ in one of two indoor/covered arenas used for the spring and fall shows.

As for the future, the Wasatch Horse Shows look forward to offering six USEF rated shows in the 2016 season complete with the addition of new classes. All of this will expand the education of riders and trainers in the local area, and attract more competitors to the Utah show scene.


Anikka Hoidal Knight rode her own Pablis to the win in the $1,000 1.0m Classic at the Summer Classic IV. Anikka and trainer/husband Michael Knight pose with Pablis and their spoils.

For more information on Wasatch Horse Shows, go to Wasatchhorseshows.com or contact Holly Dwyer at altahillstack@gmail.com.