History of Longview Horse Park
What is a Horse Park?
It is a place to see your favorite kind of horse doing what he does best.
To dedicated horse lovers, the differences between breeds and their owners are fundamental. Every breed, they say, has a distinct history and temperament.
On September 30th, 1984, the public first viewed the Longview Horse Park. Members of the Longview Horse Park and friends, with their knowledge and resources, built the Horse Show Arena. The Park, located at 126th Street and Old Raytown Rd in Kansas City, is the only public horse facility west of the Mississippi River designed for almost every type of equestrian activity.
The equestrian area encompasses a total of 535 acres. It includes some of the former pastures of Loula Long Comb's famous Longview Farm. Her Farm was renowned for the magnitude of the facility and her excellent breeding program of horses and ponies.
On September 28th, 1985 a preview of the new riding trails was held along with a barbecue to raise money for improvements to the Horse Park. The trails opened officially in the spring of 1986.
In 1985, Richard Newton, from England, was contracted by the Jackson County Parks and Recreation and the Longview Horse Park to design and construct the Cross-Country Course at the Park. Richard helped build the 1984 Olympic Course in Los Angeles, California. He completed the Longview Course in October 1986. The Mission Valley Pony Club hosted a celebration to open the Cross-Country Course. Tad Coffin, Olympic Gold Medallist, and Karen Stives, Olympic Silver Medallist, were invited to cut the ribbon for the official opening. The Mill Creek Pony Club also organized the first Combined-Training Event. The two events were held May 23rd - 24th, 1987.
It was off to the races when the Longview Horse Park hosted Kansas City's first Steeplechase on October 3rd, 1987. This was a benefit for the Horse Park.
The Combined-Driving and Carriage Show was established on May 28th - 29th, 1988. This event has evolved into two annual events that continue to be held each year at the Horse Park. The "Carriage and Driving Society of Greater Kansas City's Annual Ride and Drive Horse Show" is usually held in early summer while the "Longview by the Lake Combined Driving Event" is usually held in the fall. Richard Nicoll was contracted to design and build the Combined-Driving Course. The Longview Horse Park Association has been very selective to acquire qualified people to build at the Park. Richard Nicoll is an International Course Designer, member of the FEI Driving Committee, and Technical Delegate to the World Championships.
Dressage is one of three Olympic sports that the Park provides a facility for which to show a horse in that competitive discipline. The Dressage Show Arena was completed in May of 1991.
The first Festival held on October 5th, 1991, was held to raise money for new barns. Another Festival was held in June 1992. At each of these Festivals, the Longview Horse Park Association would bring to the community an educational background about the many activities performed by horses. The public had the opportunity to learn of these important segments of their heritage. The immense contribution of horses to human history began thousands of years ago, from domestication through their importance as a main energy supplier in the transportation industry, to today's appreciation of the horse for sporting and leisure enjoyment. The education that the Horse Park presents to everyone is without end.
In 1992, two barns were built. They were designated as "Barn B" and "Barn C". These barns are named in honor of Jess Bain, long-time President of the LVHP Association, and his wife Marjorie as well as several associates. It is also a memorial to Ted Bryan.
The barn that was originally on the property had to be torn down in 1996 as it was very old. "Barn A" was re-built on top of the hill in 1997. It is named in honor of Charles Judd, a professional trainer of ponies and Saddlebred horses. He trained many champions.
In June of 2004 "Barn D" was built. It is in memory of Ashley Re' Curl, a young Saddlebred champion, and her friends. Rick, Ann & Jessica Curl, the parents and sister of Ashley Re', funded the building of this Barn.
The larger horse shows held at the Horse Park are associated with charities. Through these charities they have helped many organizations in our community. For example, on September 27th, 1997 the Longview Horse Park Association presented a benefit for the Horse Park and the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. On September 25th, 1999 the Longview Horse Park Association presented another benefit called "Blue Grass in the Horse Park". Many Horse Park people donated their talents each time for these worthy causes.
The first Longview Horse Park Association Benefit Horse Show was held in August 2000. This show provides a means to continue on-going projects and improvements to the Park.
Early in 2000, the Longview Horse Park Association Board of Directors and the Jackson County Parks and Recreation began work on the requirements for two grants. These grants would provide the money to build the necessary facilities and training grounds for future Olympic hopefuls and National Champions.
The Horse Park received the "Longview Horse Park Trail Renovation Grant" for the period of February 2001 to June 2003. The Horse Park also received the "Longview Horse Park Cross-Country Course Renovation Grant" for the period of February 15th, 2002 to February 29th, 2004. Many improvements have been made with these grants. There is more lighting, a show office, rest rooms and bleachers to name a few.
The first Gala fundraiser was held at the Longview Horse Park on September 21st, 2002. It was called "Boots and Bridles - The Longview Legacy Lives On". The Longview Horse Park Board of Directors established an award to be given at the Gala. Called "The Longview Legacy Achievement Award", this award is given to a person who has made a significant contribution to the Horse Park. The first recipient was Jess Bain, President of the Longview Horse Park Association.
In 2003, the family of Becky Newcomer donated a beautiful entrance gate to the Longview Horse Park. The wall is made of gray stone and the gate is black wrought iron. Several metal horses "run" along the top of the wall. This sculpture was designed by Becky's daughter, Courtney Newcomer Nelson.
The Association has received many donations from people in memory of a loved one that has passed. In the fall of 2006 the Longview Horse Park Association decided to build a "Garden of Honor" which was completed in 2007. The "Garden of Honor" is in a special area of the Horse Park. It is a tribute to both loved ones that have passed as well as those still living, including beloved animals. The design is in the shape of a horseshoe with a bronze horse in the center. A seating wall making the shape of the horseshoe contains engraved stones. The paving stones can be purchased by individuals, to be engraved as they desire. These stones make up the ground in the horseshoe area as well as the walkway to the center.
The support of many generous people has provided a beautiful beginning for the Garden of Honor. The special opening was held on June 22, 2007. The dedication began with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
On May 1st, 2008, at the annual volunteer recognition ceremony put on by Jackson County Parks and Recreation, Jackie Coleman, Executive Vice-president of the LVHP Association and her husband Bob, were presented with the Outstanding Service Award. For over 20 years they designed, maintained and made safe the trails of the Jackson County Parks.
In September 2008, a sign was erected officially naming the trails "The Bob and Jackie Coleman Trails". This sign is located on the grounds of Jackson County Parks and Recreation at Sampson Road.
The Longview Horse Park Association continues to work hard to raise funds for better facilities for horse activities. The Park is one of the largest equine facilities in the Midwest.
We are sure many people in this area, as well as nationwide, will remember the Long name in the world of horses. How fitting her legend should live on in this fine equestrian center bearing the name of her farm. The foresight of the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department and the U.S. Corps of Engineers is to be commended on their preservation of the past in honoring the Longview Farm and Loula Long Combs through the Longview Horse Park.
Documentation provided by Bev Riccardi. Script Format provided by Jerry Plummer