Apr 19, 2024

Top Tips for Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event First-Timers from USEA Members

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

The 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is truly an eventing lover’s paradise with four full days of competition, vendors galore, opportunities to meet some of the sport’s greatest riders face-to-face and so much more. For a seasoned Kentucky veteran, hopping over to the Kentucky Horse Park for the fun feels easy enough, but attending Kentucky might feel a bit overwhelming for first-timers. We chatted with USEA members from all over the country to get their favorite Kentucky tips to share with you. Check them out here!

Catherine Ragland Fruth: “Bourbon chicken is a must. Clothes for all weather—it’s Kentucky!”

Addison Hamlett: “Go on Thursday to shop and leave late Sunday or early Monday—you will not regret getting home later! That makes sure you get to shop, and on Sunday you get to watch all of the show jumping.”

Michelle Dunn: “It WILL rain, take all the pictures with all the people, and walking tacos.”

Mary Aitken: “Be prepared for your phone not to work with all of the people there!”

Samantha Reinbold: “Book any dinner reservations ahead of time! I highly suggest shopping on Thursday or Friday [especially the Kentucky merch store—sizes sell out FAST!]. Get your shopping done and run it back to the car so you don’t have to lug it around.”

Teryn DeBey: “Bring a poncho or rain jacket. Even if you don’t think you’ll want it, you will.”

Keegan Oswold: “GET THE CHEESE CURDS!”

Victoria Magliaro: “Take a small backpack with snacks. Get some disposable rain ponchos from Amazon. If you’re shopping for something specific, do it early on Thursday or Friday. Bring a portable phone charger.”

Natalie Reinert: “There are going to be quite a few authors at the Taborton Equine Books booth in the indoor signing fiction and nonfiction equestrian titles. I will be there with my eventing series!”

Holly Covey: “Leave a peppermint on the Gray Goose’s grave.”

Jane Thompson: “Put a pair of binoculars in your backpack. You can watch many more jumps; even the big screens!”

And for those feeling particularly brave, Boyd Martin, who's competing in both the four- and five-star, shared: "Dress really nice and see if you can sneak into the Mars bus that’s parked next to the first water jump!"

In addition to our USEA members, Equestrian Events Inc. (EEI) staff members compiled a list of the following pointers to prepare you for your trip to the horse capital of the world.

1. If you’ve yet to visit our beautiful state, please know that you really can have all four seasons in one day. Layers are important! It never hurts to have extra socks or to bring a pair of gloves. Waterproof shoes and a rain jacket are also recommended. On the flip side, don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. Although if we do forget something, I bet someone within our Trade Fair can help us out!

2. And similarly, wear your most comfortable shoes and keep a dry pair of socks in your bag. You’ll want to see every inch of the cross-country course, and your shoes will be wet. Having fresh socks just makes the rest of the day so much more comfortable

3. Don’t forget to bring a charger for your devices. There are too many moments we want to capture on our phones, and you don’t want to miss that perfect shot due to a low battery!

4. Set aside dedicated shopping time. Check out the vendor list ahead of time and make a list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

5. Allergy Medicine. Spring has sprung in Kentucky, and the allergens can be a bit fierce. Even if you do not usually suffer from seasonal allergies, you may during your visit to Kentucky. I always recommend taking some Zyrtec starting at least one week before you arrive.

6. Grayson Jockey Club provides a bag check, take advantage of it so you don't have to carry your purchases around or take them to your car.

7. Keep your eyes open for cross-country course walks, there are several offered, including the one hosted by the USEA Adult Rider Program. A great way to see the course!

8. Be prepared to make it an annual event! Many people use the weekend to connect with friends and family from across the country.

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