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Tue, 2017-10-24 14:24

Virginia Horse Trials to Host 560 Horses at October CCI & Horse Trials

Lindsay Kelley and Cooley Cruise Control, winners of the inaugural VHT CCI2* in 2016. Brant Gamma Photo.

Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) has once again broken its own record for entries, with 560 horses entered to compete at the October CCI and Horse Trials this week. 

The competition includes Beginner Novice through Intermediate horse trials as well as international CCI2*, CIC2*, and CCI* levels. VHT will also host the Area II Championships and both Adult Rider and Intercollegiate Team Challenges.

“We are going to be very busy!” said VHT Organizer Andy Bowles. “We are thrilled at the numbers for this event and for our ability to offer so many levels, team challenges and championship courses. This kind of response means we are meeting the needs of our riders and making the right kind of upgrades.”

The Virginia Horse Center in Lexington is well equipped to handle a large entry list with 745 stalls in eight barns and 19 arenas for warm-up and competition. There are two cross-country courses on rolling terrain with excellent footing that is maintained year-round. Not to mention the stunning long range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“We are very proud of what we have to offer at this facility and honored to be a destination event for amateurs and professionals in both the spring and fall. We look forward to continuing to make progress and add to the already extensive features in place here for eventers,” Bowles said.

Laine Ashker of nearby Midlothian, Va., is competing two FEI horses this week, one each in the CCI2* and CCI*. It will be the first CCI at the level for each of her rising stars, a homebred Thoroughbred named Calling All Comets and an ex-racehorse, Call Him Paddy. 

Ashker said she enters VHT for the amenities as well as the dynamic levels offered at one event: “I choose to go to Virginia Horse Trials for my FEI horses for the laid-back atmosphere, the terrain on the cross-country and its convenience of running horse trials simultaneously with the FEI classes. I’m able to be a competitor, a coach and a cheerleader!”

As the Area II Championships and one of the last East Coast CCIs of 2017, competing at VHT is the culmination of a busy season for many riders before they take a break or travel south for winter. Australian rider Ryan Wood, based in Unionville, Pa., is riding a total of nine horses from the Training to CIC2* level.

“This is usually the first away show for the young horses so it’s a good confidence builder for them. It’s a safe facility with good stalls, plenty of warm-up, and good rings. The lower level courses ask all the right questions and give the horses a good experience with a bit of terrain,” Wood said.

“I’m looking forward to riding across the road on the FEI courses. There’s a new flow to the course where most of the course is going slightly uphill instead of downhill. I think that’s how it should be. It’s a great way to finish off the season. They put on a good show and a couple of my owners make it an annual get together.”

In addition to the competition, attendees will enjoy good food and socializing. Dog owners can enter their canines in a Halloween costume contest at 6:30 Saturday night in the coliseum. There will be numerous prizes for the best costumes and all pups will receive a “trick or treat” doggie bag. Following the costume contest is a complimentary competitors dinner with a cash bar. 

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