The National Equestrian Center (NEC) located in Lake St. Louis, Missouri is undergoing a facelift under the direction of new management. This centrally located indoor and outdoor equestrian complex is home to the St. Louis Charity Horse Show, several Queenie Productions festivals, the AQHA March to the Arch show, and many iconic equestrian events. Much loved by the equestrian community, the NEC holds a special place in the heart of many midwestern horse lovers and the renovations on the docket plan to bring the facility back to life again.
The NEC floated into Dale Natoli and his sister, Patti’s, family estate and Dale immediately saw the potential in the multi-arena complex. “I saw the value in what it had to offer,” he shared with JN. Dale, who grew up with horses, knew that the NEC had the opportunity to be a premiere destination for horse riders of all disciplines. “I decided we needed to make the investment to bring it up to world class.” Dale has served as the visionary of the mission and Patty along with new Facility Director, Dana Ferris, have been overseeing the daily operations.
With just a month of managing the facility under the Natoli’s belts, they have already implemented countless improvements to spruce the facilities in Phase One of their renovations. Repairs to the stalls have been made to ensure equine safety and they have cleaned up the main arena. Steps to improve the footing throughout the facility have begun and each of these small changes has drastically improved the feel of the facility. A fresh coat of paint is scheduled and new heating units have been ordered to replace those throughout the property.
“We want to make this a facility that our riders are proud to come to,” said Dale. “This facility is not only an opportunity to benefit the equestrian industry, but also our local community.”
Dale was on his way to a meeting regarding Phase Two of the NEC upgrades during his interview with JN. Phase Two will focus on improvements to the outdoor appearance of the facility, including driveways, signage, lighting, and facility fencing. There are also plans to add a Jumbotron to the main arena and updates to the website will allow for online reservation of RV spots.
“We hope to bring in horse therapy to rehab horses into one of the barns,” shared Dale. “Phase Three will see that through and also allow us to keep horses on sight for education purposes. We hope to pair with local schools to give students the opportunity to learn to work with and ride horses as part of their curriculum.” The NEC staff also hope to open up opportunities for trainers and horses to come into the NEC during the weekdays for training opportunities, on top of their busy show schedule. Their 2018 schedule offers something for everyone- from Rated and schooling Hunter Jumper shows, to Dressage, Western events, dog agility shows, clinicians such as Buck Branaman, and more.
John McQueen of Queenie Productions is ecstatic about the updates to the NEC. Over the years Queenie Productions has hosted countless opportunities for riders of all levels to compete and earn national recognition, including the $20,000 Qualifier for the Omaha Equestrian Foundations’ INIT2WINIT Speed Jumping Series.
“I am so excited I can hardly see straight,” said John. “Queenie Productions has been hosting at the NEC for seven years and unfortunately participation has gone down every year. These new improvements are definitely going to get people excited about the facility!”
John is also the current manager of the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show – an independent show and non-profit organization that has become a cornerstone of the NEC calendar. They have played host to a slew of big name classes including the Region 5 ASPCA/HSAA Maclay Championship and a $50,000 Grand Prix.
One thing John wants to stress to everyone anticipating the wonderful improvements being made at the NEC is that they won’t happen overnight. “The Natolis and the NEC team are interested in quality products and quality workmanship. The magnitude of what they are doing will take time, but every time I walk onto the property there is something that has been fixed. I am just so excited, it gives me the opportunity to plan for the future of Queenie Productions at the NEC.”