Roebke's Run gearing up for FEI One Star rating, approved for 'Intermediate' summer horse trials

By Pat Schmidt 2013 Hector, Minnesota

John Williams oversaw bulldozers hard at work digging a new water jump at Roebke's Run in Hector, MN. An improved Roebke's Run under Williams direction, will be ready for Intermediate and FEI One Star riders next summer and fall. Williams is a nationally known designer of equestrian and cross country courses.

John Williams is a guy who knows his horses and who knows his courses.He competed as a team rider at the 2004 U.S. Olympics in Athens, the 2002 World Championships as lead rider in their gold medal effort and was also a member of the 1991 PanAm team. He's been around, to say the least.

For the past 30 years he has put all that "horse sense" and experience together to pursue what is now his primary vocation of course design and evaluation. His work takes him to over 20 venues annually and he estimates he has designed over 2,000 courses at all levels. Most of these courses are in the United States, but he has also worked in Columbia, Venezuela, Guatemala and five sites in Mexico the most notable being the 2011 PanAm Games Course in Guadalajara.

His reputation as a nationally recognized designer of cross-country courses across America, brought him more recently to Roebke's Run cross-country course in Hector, Minnesota Oct. 16. He was there to design the course for a FEI One Star Event rating, which will be the final decision of a USEF committee. On October 17, Roebke's Run was given approval to run Intermediate in July/Oct. 2013.

The FEI One Star rating promotes young riders to compete on the course and ultimately compete in the FEI North America Junior and Young Rider Championships. The Intermediate ranking will bring in the more advanced riders.

"Putting together a course is actually like putting together a puzzle," said Williams. I have to come up with a track that feels the way the riders want forward, open and galloping, not tight and twisty." He explained that an event can include as many as five other courses being run on the same day that intermingle with each other. At the most, maybe two jumps out of up to 32 would be shared per level.

"Bumping up to Intermediate and One Star level is a big deal, but relatively easy to accomplish here with the team that Roebke's Run has put together. The Intermediate level accreditation was awarded to Roebke's Run, but due to construction that doesn't mean it exists yet. A bulldozer was hard at work today digging a large new 100' x 170' water jump. There will be a total of three water complexes, a Weldon's Wall, two coffin ditches and pirate ship jumps at the new water complex, along with 32 treasured jumps to be added to the course as well.

"The Schweiss's have hit the ground running, making fast and good progress in order to run a popular and top-notch competition. In the short two years since I've been here, they've made many wonderful improvements to their overall facility and have purchased additional land for it to be all that it can be. The entire atmosphere of Roebke's Run is very appealing," noted Williams. "As a team effort, we have managed to make the most out of it in a relatively short period of time."


Cleon J. Wingard, a FEI/USEF licensed official concurs. "The entire course has made very good use of terrain. This course is one of the best courses I have seen. In my opinion, the event would be an excellent choice for a FEI One Star event. I do not think USEA/Area IV could have a better event to host an FEI One Star."

At this point in time, Roebke's Run coordinators, Julie Schweiss and Brook Mead are planning to conduct the Intermediate trials during the Roebke's Run events in July and October and to push back the FEI One Star event to the October Roebke's Run trials.