Oct 17, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Photo courtesy of Sporting Days Farm.

The Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials are held four times yearly in February, March, April, and December in Aiken, South Carolina (Area III), offering Starter through Intermediate/Preliminary levels.

Joannah Hall Glass, owner of Sporting Days Farm in Aiken, South Carolina, has been involved in the sport of eventing in a number of capacities over the years. A former Pony Club District Commissioner, original board member of the Delaware Valley Combined Training Association (DVCTA), member of the board of Dressage at Devon, and a life member of the USEF and USEA, Glass has “enjoyed many people’s enthusiasm for the sport.”

Glass began organizing horse trials in the 1960s in Maryland and continued to organize events well into the 1980s in Pennsylvania. In 1986, with the help of Wilson Groves, Glass hosted a combined test on the Polo Field at Aiken. Following that, she rented land and hosted the first full horse trials in Aiken in 1988. “At that point, I had bought 92 acres and took some gap years to build the farm and courses at my own Sporting Days Farm,” Glass recalled. “By 1993 I tested my site with a combined test and then a horse trials.”

Thomas Himmel Photo courtesy of Sporting Days Farm.

“So many staff, volunteers, and friends have helped our horse trials grow and improve,” Glass said. “Early on, Lorna Forbes, our beloved President of DVCTA, always helped guide and support me. Her enthusiasm and encouragement was the gasoline in my mental tank. For years she was also our technical delegate.”

Groves had built all the cross-country fence at the Bryn Lea Horse Trials in Pennsylvania when Glass was working up there, and he came down to help with the first two horse trials Glass ran in Aiken. Captain Mark Phillips has also lent a hand at Sporting Days, and Mogie Bearden-Muller is the event’s current designer. “Mark Phillips has done a wonderful job with the courses,” Glass praised. “So far we have been blessed with a low percentage of trouble. Competitors completing cross-country seem very pleased with their horses and remark they learned as well. We want [our courses] up to the level but encouraging and rewarding. As we are early in the season we keep our courses on the minimum distances.”

“Our courses go through two very large fields and into woods, which have hills and valleys,” Glass described. “Competitors say they like the opportunity to be alone with their horse on the very wide trails. People think it is flat in Aiken. Not true, especially at Sporting Days Farm!”

GRC Photo courtesy of Sporting Days Farm.

“About 15 years or so ago we built a drop going into a field and one of the EMTs wanted to go see his buddy,” Glass remembered. “Before General Burton, my technical delegate, and I realized it, he drove the truck off the bank and hung up on it. We had to scurry to get it off. Only the bank was damaged. Burton and I laughed so hard we ached.”

“We pride ourselves as being the friendliest ‘neigh’berly’ event,” Glass said. “A pavilion was added overlooking the show jumping ring and behind it is the cross-country warm up. The secretary, office assistant, awards and volunteer chair are all in the building. We welcome all and have a wood stove burning in winter along with hot cider and hot chocolate for all who come visit and get warm.”

Glass said the keyword to describe the facilities at Sporting Days Farm is “convenient. Everything is near with the hub being the pavilion overlooking the show ring. The Vendors Row also faces the show ring as does the food tent and food truck. We provide a covered eating area by the food. We have hosted the course designers and technical delegates’ USEA training sessions on several occasions and were able to create a classroom.”

Photo courtesy of Sporting Days Farm.

“I always look forward to finishing the preparation and decoration and having Bambi Glaccum doing the course walk map and winners pictures. Also, she and I go shopping for hosting our traditional owners and riders wine and cheese reception and our officials dinner. [I love] greeting those who take the opportunity to partake of our ‘spread’ and mingle.”

“As a past eventer to Intermediate, I delight in having all our competitors – we all do! They will find it easy to park, get from phase to phase, we have nice stalls and cross-country courses, and riding in the show ring gives their green horses a chance to feel spectators watching them from the pavilion inside and out on a good day.”

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

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