Red Hills Horse Trials: Florida’s World Class Equestrian Three Day Eventing Competition
|March 20, 2012||Posted by Marisol under Agriculture, Events|
By Marisol Alvares and Lori Poole
Who would think that the quiet, whispering pine fields of Tallahassee serve as training grounds and host to a world class equestrian three day event in Florida?!
The Red Hills Horse Trials (RHHT) hosted international competitors from Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain, India and New Zealand this year.
Australian-turned-U.S. citizen and Olympian Phillip Dutton took first in the CIC*** division (the highest offered at Red Hills) on Mystery Whisper, while American Marilyn Little Meredith won the CIC** division aboard RF Smoke on the Water. International competitors also enjoyed success at Red Hills, with Canada’s Selena O’Hanlon taking a fourth in the CIC*** division on Colombo and Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance taking a first in the Open Intermediate division.
Carol Atkins, Co-Chair of Marketing and Media Relations for RHHT, explains that Red Hills International Horse Trials is a stepping stone to qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, to be held in Lexington April 27-29. Rolex is the highest ranked three day event in the U.S., one of only five CCI**** events in the world.
“Horses are air-lifted to the United States. Most of our international riders were already here, training in various states, including Florida. Red Hills comes at the beginning of their trek north to wind up at Rolex, if they qualify. The only division run there is the CIC 4 Star,” Carol says.
Why is Red Hills an event of choice for international cross country riders?
“They tell us they love the atmosphere in Tallahassee, the broad-based community support with thousands of spectators, the warm, friendly people and the ‘southern hospitality’ they experience here. Also, they cite the mild climate and the challenging cross-country course designed by world-renowned Hugh Lochore, of Scotland, who now lives in Tallahassee. In addition, our date, the second weekend of March, is perfect as they begin the circuit. And this year, we were told by Captain Mark Phillips, coach of the U.S. Eventing Team, that the Red Hills venue most closely resembles the site for the sport in London this summer. That was advantageous for Olympic contenders,” Carol responded.
It was my first time to attend this show and it certainly was an extraordinary experience for me. Check these photos and a clip from the event.
Note: The Concours Complet International (CCI) and Concours International Combiné (CIC) are competitions established by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. Asterisks by the acronyms denote the level of competition. For example, an event listed as CCI**** is a four-star event and is the highest level eventing competition.