The Plantation Field Horse Trials are held four times a year in April, May, June, and September in Unionville, Pennsylvania (Area II). The horse trials in April, May, and June offer Beginner Novice through Intermediate and the International Horse Trials in September offer CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI4*-S divisions. Plantation Field also hosts several schooling events every year.
The Plantation Field Horse Trials began long before Denis Glaccum approached Cuyler Walker about using a 300-acre portion of his property to host a horse trials. Glaccum founded Fair Hill Equestrian Events, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in the mid-1980s with the intention of creating new events at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. “The State of Maryland asked me to start events to demonstrate that equestrians would use the site,” Glaccum recalled. “Within two years we were running an Olympic Selection Trial after running our first event in 1986. We conducted six to seven horse trials a year until 1997. In 1989, we were part of the group that started Fair Hill International.”
Glaccum had been part of the group that started the Chesterland International Three-Day Event in the mid-1970s and served as a co-organizer in the early 1980s. After serving as co-organizer, he got the urge to create his own event. “Until that time I never had any interest in organizing events or doing course designing,” he explained. “I had a full-time job at IBM and all my free time was spent riding.”
In 1998, Glaccum moved the events to Menfelt in Frederick, Maryland while a more permanent site could be constructed in Pennsylvania. That’s where Walker came in. “In 2000 I approached Cuyler Walker about the possibility of using a portion of his property to conduct our trials. We ran our first horse trials at Plantation in the spring of 2001.”
With the move to Plantation came a shift in the name of the 501(c)(3). “The field was known as Logan’s Field and it also had a woods known as Plantation Woods. So, we changed our name to Plantation Field Equestrian Events, Inc. (PFEE). Since then, we have conducted four recognized events a year (one being [an international]) and three unrecognized events as well as schooling jumper and dressage shows.”
“Cuyler was, at first, not an eventing person. I am sure he had some concerns – most landowners do. However, he has become a very good friend and a strong supporter and board member,” said Glaccum. “Cuyler is the glue that helps hold us together.”
Plantation Field is what it is today because of the incredible team of people who have stood behind it for over 30 years. “At Fair Hill, we would never have been successful initially without Bodgie Read. She ran the dressage, volunteers, and so much else,” Glaccum recalled. “Anne Ogletree, an equestrian lawyer from Denton, Maryland, handles our relationship with the state and all of our legal work. She has volunteered all of her services free since 1986 and still comes to every event and helps score. Without Anne, there is no PFEE. Kathy Blank also started as a college student at Fair Hill doing every job. Mowing, flagging with penalty zones, scoring. She’s still with us. Bit of Britain and John Nunn was with us from the start - sponsoring, supporting, and serving as our president for a term. Crystal Brumme (Pickett), founder of Equiery magazine, has been a helper and supporter for our first 20 years.”
“All of those who came with us from Fair Hill continue some 30 years later,” said Glaccum. “Why? Hard to say, but I think they believe in what we do. I can honestly say there is a sense of true respect and love.”
No less important are the people that have joined the Plantation Field team since the event moved to Pennsylvania. “Lornie Forbes and Sam Slater have given us guidance and support for over 25 years,” Glaccum continued. “Since coming to Pennsylvania we have had one starter, Peter Jaffe, a friend who has started every single recognized horse trials since 2001. Calm and reassuring to competitors are but two of his great characteristics.”
“[We have been supported by] the Connel family, Boyce family, and, for the last 10 years, the Embree Family. It has been a great honor to watch these children develop into adults. There is no one more respected in our community than Jamie Hicks. A friend and board member, he gives us so much assistance. At a moment’s notice he will come and fix equipment, repair erosion, all while having a very large farming operation of his own. Like everyone, we have challenges getting volunteers, but our coordinators come through. Plantation grew in structure when Mary Coldren joined us. Mary has managed the events since 2013. Her skill set is way too wide to list. Calm, cool, and collected with common sense and good judgement are but a few.”
“Last but not least is my wife of 51 years, Bambi, doing the bulk of the Secretary work until recently where she now gets help from Mandy Embree. Bambi has tolerated years of my stress temper tantrums with a smile on her face to everyone but me.”
Glaccum said that, over the last 30 years, he’s collected too many stories to tell, but many of them revolve around the weather. “Snowstorms, hurricanes, thunderstorms, 10 inches of rain five days before an event. There was one event where we canceled Sunday’s cross-country and it took six hours on Saturday and three on Sunday to pull trailers out of the mud. Mud is not the right word! Soup - very cold, brown soup. There has been broken equipment and broken bones, but at the end of the last 33 years we have provided years of good sport, helped developed great horses and riders, and tried with all our energy and passion to do the best we could.”
“[Every year] these efforts get easier because of the wonderful people who help us,” Glaccum stated. “We try to create a friendly environment. We want riders to know that we are always trying to improve our product, our facility, and our management. ‘This is supposed to be fun’ is our motto!”
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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).