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NAYC Eventing at Rebecca Farm: Tight-Knit Community, Team Spirit, and Halting Cancer at X

by Glenye Cain Oakford | Jul 24, 2019, 12:21 PM EST

The Adequan® North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North kick off with eventing at Rebecca Farm

Rebecca Farm hosts the NAYC eventing in Montana's scenic Flathead Valley.
Photo: Jeff Lendrum/Lendrum Photography LLC

in Kalispell, Mont., which runs through July 28. (Old Salem Farm in North Salem, N.Y., hosts FEI dressage and jumping championships July 30-Aug. 4.)

USEF Network will stream the action live July 25-28. Watch the NAYC live here.

The eventing championships are open to qualified U.S. riders aged 14-21, who compete both for individual medals and for team medals—giving these young equestrians a special opportunity to ride on a team while facing international rivals. Teams from around the U.S. compete, and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean also are invited to send teams. NAYC eventing at Rebecca Farm is run at the CCIJ2*-L level for athletes aged 14-18 and at the CCIY3*-S level for athletes aged 16-21.

The NAYC competition takes place in conjunction with The Event at Rebecca Farm, which features novice- to CCI4*-level competition. Rebecca Farm has been hosting eventing competition since 2002, and in that time the venue, known for its sweeping views of Big Sky country, has become one of the nation’s most treasured destinations—and a deeply valued community partner. The Event at Rebecca Farm alone has created more than $5 million in annual economic impact to the local area.

Named after the late Rebecca “Becky” Broussard, who founded the farm and the competition with her husband Jerome, Rebecca Farm also raises funds for national cancer research and local support services through the charity Halt Cancer at X. Broussard’s daughter, Sarah, founded Halt Cancer at X after her mother’s death from breast cancer in 2010. To date, the charity has raised about $600,000 to fund research and support organizations.

“The farm is a beautiful piece of property, and the views here are impeccable,” said Sarah Broussard, who started her own eventing career in Jamaica as a youth before her family returned to the U.S. Broussard is also a two-time NAYC graduate herself. She says she and her late mother had long wanted to host NAYC competition at Rebecca Farm, and they finally got the chance to take on the eventing championship in 2017.

“The horses really enjoy running across the open ground here,” Broussard said. “The Flathead Valley is just an amazing place to be. We have an amazing community, and they support the farm. In turn, The Event is special because of the people who put it on. The volunteer base we have is very dedicated, and I think they truly enjoy coming out. We’re bringing in 650+ competitors, with all of their entourage. It adds up between hotels and groceries and restaurants and Walmart! And when people come to the event, they also get the great experience of the Flathead Valley.”

In addition to seeing great sport, visitors can also take in a shopping fair with more than 90 vendors and a wide range of food concessions, as well as the popular Kid Zone for the younger set. The Kid Zone, sponsored by Whitefish Credit Union, offers pony rides, face-painting, arts and crafts, and more. It also features the Pony Up Experience, which is designed to inspire children to learn more about horses and ponies. Hosted by Mountain View Farms North, the Pony Up Experience at Rebecca Farm welcomes kids on a first-come, first-served basis in the Kid Zone from Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. Each interactive class lasts an hour, and includes instruction on how to approach a horse, mount, and dismount; a demonstration of grooming tools and how to use them; how to saddle a horse; and types of horses, including common colors and markings.

Kids who attend also receive a special horse-related packet and a Horsemanship 101 certificate. For specific class times, check here.

Photo: Jeff Lendrum/Lendrum Photography LLC

“For the NAYC competitors, they get to come to an event that is truly on a large scale,” Broussard said. “We have so much going on, and I think that’s a real eye-opening experience for the Juniors and Young Riders, because this probably will be the biggest event they’ve gone to as a competitor as of yet. It gives them a view on the next step up, the next level. But most importantly for the younger riders, this is probably the first time they’ll ride for a team, and that team mentality is different from the individual mentality. I think it’s important for competitors who want to be on that world stage, who want to represent our country, to learn how to be on a team and ride for the team, not just for themselves. The team is bigger than any individual, so maybe you’ll have a different cross-country plan than you would have as an individual because you’re trying to protect that team score.”

There’s more than honor on the line at the NAYC eventing championships, both for teams and individuals. Ariat is giving an apparel prize pack to the top-placed U.S. Rider of the Young Rider division. Prestige will award saddles to the individual winners of the Eventing Young Rider 2* and the Eventing Junior 1* divisions; the first-placed teams in those divisions will receive bridles.

SUBHEAD: A Special Cause: Halt Cancer at X

The 2010 death of Rebecca Broussard left a significant hole in the sport of eventing.

“We’re celebrating 30 years of eventing in the Flathead Valley this year, and she was involved in Heron Park 30 years ago,” daughter Sarah said. “So through the 30 years that she was involved in the sport, she became very well-known and very well-loved. So it wasn’t just my loss or my family’s loss; it was the eventing family’s loss. At the same time, I also wanted to somehow take us beyond being The Event and make us known in a bigger sense.

“I knew that the eventing community would support something that was in honor of my mother. That first year, we raised $50,000, and almost all of that was through competitor pledges. It blew me away.”

The fundraising effort has proven remarkably successful in the ensuing year, and the charity has now raised about $600,000 in total since its launch in 2012. Competitors still make pledges, and Halt Cancer at X also collects donations in the form of voluntary donations for parking during The Event and NAYC, through proceeds from auctioning VIP experiences at The Event, and similar fundraising efforts.

Halt Cancer at X donates to national cancer research programs, but it also supports local services for cancer patients, such as one that provides funds to help patients cover such everyday expenses as groceries, rent, and gas.

“Patients going through chemo often can’t keep up on those things,” Broussard said. “It’s very hard to be going through

Sarah Broussard
Photo: Mackenzie Reiss

massive amounts of chemotherapy and radiation and go to work every day. Cancer is debilitating. When they can’t work, they don’t get paid, and then they can’t pay bills. A group like this one can help cover their rent for three months so they can concentrate on getting through chemo.

“There are a lot of great programs here in the valley that support cancer patients throughout their whole journey, and my mother went through cancer here in this community, so I wanted to support that,” Broussard added. “So when people come to our event and make a donation, they know that a portion of that is going right back into the community. I knew that between the eventing community and the Flathead Valley community, Halt Cancer at X had a really good chance.”

Learn more about the NAYC eventing championship here, and watch the livestream on USEF Network July 25-28.

For more information about Rebecca Farm and The Event at Rebecca Farm, visit the Rebecca Farm website.

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