In just shy of three weeks, top riders, emerging talent, and eventing fans will gather at the Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains, Virginia for the 2019 MARS Great Meadow International, taking place August 23-25. With a star-studded entry list and many new features, this year’s event promises to be a weekend of elite competition, family and canine-friendly programming, and more.
The 2019 MARS Great Meadow International is running its traditional CCI4*-S and has added a CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S to open the event up to more riders in the community and showcase the local talent. Closing date for entries is tomorrow, August 6.
Dressage and show jumping will take place in Great Meadow’s state-of-the-art Fleming Arena, constructed by industry-leading footing experts Attwood Equestrian Surfaces. Built with innovative all-weather footing and engineered with exceptional drainage, this arena is perfect in any and all weather.
As is well-known, Virginia summers can be dry and hot, but the cross-country footing at Great Meadow is unbeatable, even in Virginia, even in August. Great Meadow's steeplechase course is well-known for having some of the best footing in the United States. Beneath the 30 years of established turf is an intricate system of drainage tiles to ensure that the footing is pristine, even in wet conditions. This section of the property is fully irrigated with massive water reels which act as giant sprinklers. The newer section of the course, known as Fleming Farm, was completely renovated last fall. The course was aerated and planted with a heavy overseed blend of Bluegrass, turf fescues, and perennial ryegrasses and fertilization. The course is managed with a very aggressive mowing program.
Great Meadow has imported an irrigation system called the SumiRain from Australia. This technology is a brilliant solution for the challenge of watering a precise path without the installation of underground pipes. Each 50-meter perforated hose throws a steady, soaking spray 10 meters on either side, exactly the width of the gallop track. In addition to its accuracy, this system is eco-friendly, using only the amount of water needed with little to no waste. Great Meadow is the first venue in the country to utilize SumiRain irrigation hoses.
Spectator experience is of the highest priority and the MARS Great Meadow International has made every effort to ensure each and every guest has an enjoyable weekend. Located on the elevated berm overlooking the main arena, the Old Ox Brewery Beer Garden will be open Friday through Sunday, offering Old Ox craft beer, local cider, and several wine options. Old Ox Brewery has recently opened a taproom in downtown Middleburg in addition to their Ashburn location.
There is no need to pack a picnic for the MARS Great Meadow International! The rotating list of food trucks includes Two Smooth Dudes, offering gourmet tater-tots, wraps, and salads, and Red Dog BBQ, serving up a variety of BBQ meats and classic sides. No day would be complete without dessert, and Flying Moos Creamery will scooping their homemade ice cream on Saturday and Sunday. Guests can enjoy their drinks and food in the free Patron Tent, overlooking the arena. Further hospitality options include tailgates, ringside boxes and the traditional upscale VIP Tent featuring a full weekend of Virginia hospitality.
More than two dozen vendors will make up the Meadow Market vendor village. Including on this year’s list of vendors are saddleries, tack shops, jewelers and even a chocolate vendor.
Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Outpatient Rehab Center and Concussion Clinic will be on site answering questions about individual risk for concussion, common signs and symptoms of concussion, and what to do in the event of an injury.
As the sun sets over Great Meadow, the fun will continue with live music from returning country duo Martin and Kelly. Jilly Martin and Ryan Brooks Kelly will play in the beer garden on both Friday and Saturday evening.
Dogs are welcome at the 2019 MARS Great Meadow International! Starting on Friday, the MARS Equestrian VIPet tent will be available as a cooling station for pets. There will be a manned dog park for playing off-leash and fun giveaways and treats sponsored by MARS Petcare. (Otherwise, guests are asked to please keep pets on a leash.) Local dog trainer Barry Magner of Hunt Country Canine® and world-renowned dog trainer Pat Nolan of TDK9 have partnered together to display retriever, directional, and obedience demonstrations for the event.
Eventing will not be the only equestrian event taking place in the Fleming Arena. 2019 marks the return of the ever-popular Bareback Puissance, organized this year by five-star eventer and previous bareback puissance winner Chris Talley. The 2019 Bareback Puissance, sponsored by Mane 'n Tail, is scheduled for the evening of Friday, August 23 and offers a $500 prize. Any riders interested in competing can contact Chris at [email protected]. Fresh off a win at the 2019 Piper Cup at Banbury Cross Polo Club, the Beverly Polo Team will be playing in a polo match in the main arena on Saturday evening following show jumping.
An additional unique feature to this event is a fly fishing demonstration sponsored by Orvis in the Mars Sustainability Bay, one of the main water complexes of the cross-country course.
The 2019 MARS Great Meadow International is proud to be partnered with several non-profits. A portion of proceeds from MARS GMI will go to the Middleburg Humane Foundation, a local animal shelter, and the PEDIGREE Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping increase dog adoption rates. The 2019 MARS Great Meadow International is also partnered with the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, whose programs include therapeutic riding lessons and horsemanship activities, equine-assisted learning, equine-assisted psychotherapy, and hippotherapy.
For those unable to attend the 2019 MARS Great Meadow International, EQSportsNet will provide wall-to-wall coverage of all three phases of the CCI4*-S and the CCI3*-S show jumping and cross-country. To access the live and complete on-demand coverage of the 2019 Mars Great Meadow International, sign up to become a subscriber of EQSportsNet. In addition to live coverage, members get access to over 30,000 videos on-demand. Special Mars GMI pricing will be provided for USEA Members.
In 2000 and with the support of Joan Iversen Goswell, the Worth the Trust Scholarships were established to provide financial assistance to amateurs to pursue their education in eventing. The funds from the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarship may be used for training opportunities such as clinics, working student positions, and private or group instruction, or to learn from an official, course designer, technical delegate, judge, veterinarian, or organizer.
The Surefire Farm Horse Trials scheduled for September 25-27, 2020 in Purcellville, Virginia has been canceled.
When introducing a horse to a new concept, it is important to make the entire learning process enjoyable. Make sure to always praise your horse so they continuously understand that they are supposed to be enjoying this time. In eventing, the skinnies have gotten so small that the sooner the horses begin to lock on and enjoy it, the better.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).