Kentucky. Lexington. Land Rover. The Kentucky Three-Day Event is known to equine enthusiasts across the globe by a myriad of names, but few know the story of the small non-profit organization who makes it happen. Formed in 1976, Equestrian, Events, Inc. (EEI) was responsible for organizing the 1978 World Three-Day Championships at the newly created Kentucky Horse Park. Today, that same non-profit manages the Kentucky Three-Day Event and the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix.
A Brief History of Equestrian Events, Inc
Since its inception, EEI has sought to support the development of equestrian sports through the staging of events at the highest level. Prior to the historic 1978 Championships, EEI organized the first horse trials ever held at the Horse Park in October of 1976, followed by two more events in 1977 – the national Pony Club Rally and the North American Junior Three-Day Event Championships. On September 14-17, 1978, EEI went on to produce the World Three-Day Event Championships, held for the first time in the United States of America.
Following the indisputable success of the 1978 Championships, EEI was asked by the AHSA Combined Training Events Committee (now US Equestrian) to organize the Kentucky Horse Trials in 1979, and thus the Kentucky Three-Day Event was born.
More than K3DE
EEI is governed by a 26-member Board of Directors and employs a small, full-time staff to produce their events. While eventing has been the primary discipline organized by EEI, with the Kentucky Three-Day Event being the cornerstone, they have expanded into other disciplines over the years. The decade of the 2010’s was one of growth as they oversaw multiple new endeavors. In 2011 EEI created the Kentucky Reining Cup, which was held in conjunction with the Kentucky Three-Day Event for five years, ending in 2015. Starting in 2018, EEI organized the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix, also held in conjunction with the Kentucky Three-Day Event, which continues today. In 2019 EEI partnered with the United States Eventing Association to bring the American Eventing Championships (AEC) to the Horse Park for the first time. The 2019 AEC holds the record for the most entries to a three-day event in North American history – a record that could very well be broken by the 2021 AEC, which EEI again will be organizing.
A foundational principle on which EEI was built is giving back and supporting the communities in which it belongs. Over the years, EEI has given back generously to Central Kentucky and the equestrian community at large.
EEI’s philanthropy has been both financial and hands-on. For decades EEI has made monetary contributions to organizations in need. However, since 2014, EEI has identified an Official Charity for the Kentucky Three-Day Event and the Kentucky CSI3* Invitation Grand Prix. During these events, EEI has held multiple fundraisers and promoted that organization’s cause to attendees throughout the weekend. Past Official Charities include Horses and Hope, Partners for Youth, Bluegrass Land Conservancy, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, and Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass. Additionally, through both an annual Grant Program administered by the Board of Directors and donations made to organizations who volunteer at their events, EEI has donated over $400,000 since 2015 alone to nearly 100 organizations.
EEI also looks for ways to physically contribute to an organization’s success. Volunteering as a group with the local division of the Habitat for Humanity or cleaning the Horse Path at the Kentucky Horse Park are recent examples of these hands-on opportunities that allow us to give back to others. On their own time, volunteering at local events and shows is encouraged by EEI leadership. It is no stretch to say that at any event held at the Kentucky Horse Park, you will have at least one representative of EEI happily volunteering their time to support the equestrian community. Members of the EEI team also volunteer for groups involved in addressing food insecurity, fostering shelter animals, children’s diabetes, and many others.
As a non-profit who has a long history of supporting other non-profits, EEI has found themselves in a challenging position. Due to the pandemic, 2020 has been a difficult year for EEI, as it has been for countless companies and individuals. With the cancellation of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, the Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix, and the American Eventing Championships, EEI has suffered a tremendous loss. The success of EEI’s previous events does not translate into deep pockets since the organization either re-invests directly into their events or donates to other charities. In a year with virtually no income, EEI is looking for ways to overcome these financial challenges.
We need your support in continuing the legacy events that make the last weekend of April the ‘Best Weekend All Year!’ Please consider making a one-time, annual, recurring or lifetime contribution to support these events you love. Any amount helps and we are grateful for your tax-deductible donation. For those giving at the $500+ level, you qualify for our exclusive pre-sale for tickets in 2021, granting you access prior to the public release—just one small way we can thank you for your support!