Aug 22, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: Radnor Hunt Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
USEA Archives Photo.

The Radnor Hunt Horse Trials takes place yearly in mid-October in Malvern, Pennsylvania (Area II), offering Novice, Training, and Preliminary levels.

The early beginnings of the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials can be traced back when, in 1964, Lana duPont Wright was the first woman to compete in Olympic three-day eventing, claiming a team silver medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. When she returned to the United States, she, along with Master of Foxhounds for the Vicmead Hunt Kathleen Crompton and District Commissioner of the Middletown Pony Club Joannah Glass, founded a horse trials at Glass’s farm, The Gambit, in Warwick, Maryland. “The 1960s were exciting times and women were empowered and emboldened into independent leadership activities and businesses,” Glass recalled.

Glass later moved back to her hometown of Malvern, Pennsylvania where she started hosting the Bryn Lea Horse Trials just a few doors down from the Radnor Hunt Club, the oldest continuously existing hunt club in the nation, founded in 1883. In 1972, Glass and Sheila Hundt helped the Radnor Hunt Pony Club host its first horse trials, an event that would grow into the prestigious Radnor Hunt International Three-Day Event.

“The Radnor Hunt Three-Day Event was the premier event in the country and nearly every American Olympic rider cut their teeth at Radnor,” said Richard Walkup, prior Chairman of the Radnor Three-Day Event and current Chair of the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials.” In fact, our committee was tasked with managing the Olympic Three-Day Events in Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996.”

Over the years, the Radnor Hunt International Three-Day Event hosted the Junior and Young Rider Championships and Intermediate Championships in addition to international one- and two-star levels and national Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced divisions. The tradition continued until 2006, the last year that Radnor offered international divisions.

When attendance dwindled and made the prospect of hosting international divisions untenable, a group, spearheaded by the iconic Marilyn Taylor, got together to pivot the International Three-Day Event to the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials of today, which started by hosting Training and Novice levels and later added Preliminary in 2016. “Many of the old gang converged for competing, volunteering, collaboration, and a fun day,” Glass described.

Photo courtesy of Joannah Glass.

The facilities for the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials are nestled in the beautiful rolling countryside just North of Philadelphia. “We have excellent cross-country obstacles, a variety of well-maintained dressage, show jumping, and warm-up rings, ample parking, and a variety of food vendors,” said Walkup.

Walkup described the cross-country course, currently designed by Jeff Kibbie, as “well thought out, on scenic countryside with beautifully designed obstacles, challenging, and, in the words of our technical delegate, ‘Three-Day quality.’”

One of the highlights of the weekend for all in attendance at the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials is the annual Roast Pig Party, held after cross-country is completed. Free to competitors, this party is a chance for all to gather and celebrate the legacy of the Radnor Hunt Horse Trials with good company, great food, and live music.

Radnor Hunt Horse Trials also offers a variety of different awards to celebrate its competitors. The RH Thompson Award, named of Dick Thompson, is a $1,000 cash prize for best overall performance of the day; the Fox Creek Farm Award goes to the rider with the best Preliminary level score; the Shelia Hundt Award is presented to the rider with the best dressage score of the day; the Founders Award goes to the top-scoring Radnor Hunt Pony Club rider; and the Willistown Conservation Trust Cooler is awarded to the top junior Training level rider.

“A moment that typifies our event for me was when our Founders Award for top Radnor Hunt Pony Club score went to Annie Rogers riding Some Kind of Wonderful trained by our own committee member, Beth Wicas,” recounted Walkup. “Unfortunately, Annie had to leave immediately after her fantastic performance and missed the awards presentation at the Roast Pig Party. Her hasty departure, after a grueling day of eventing, was due to her competing in the swimming portion of a tetrathlon that evening! The next day she went on to complete the running, shooting, and riding portions of her competition, winning her division and the Equitation Award! We are so very proud to support these young athletes!”

“Most of our committee members are multiple generation equestrians and are passionate about the sport and the success of our competitors,” said Walkup. “Seeing the culmination of our committees’ efforts in the successes, joy, and gratitude of our wonderful competitors is certainly a highlight of the weekend.”

“We are a friendly event whose goal is to perpetuate the sport, supporting our local riders and preserving our countryside.”

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A­-Z series.

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