Thanks to 3DayAdventures for some blog content other than hoof holes!
It’s been raining in NC for what seems like 5 nonstop months. Temperatures have fluctuated from 30 to 80 (sometimes in one week), and some days I don’t even MIND that I don’t have a rideable horse because it’s just plain ol’ nasty.
But with the end of March comes a few things…Trainer B’s return as well as the beginning of show season.
But KC, you might say, your horse has a gigantic hole in his foot.
That he does, my dears, but it’s looking like this handsome guy will soon be coming my way.
Right now the plan is to head up to VA at the end of this month and compete C in a schooling horse trial, then bring him back to NC with me. His owner will be following him down to NC shortly after that, as she heads back to work for Trainer B, and C will stay with me until P is ready to go. Which will probably be early summer, because the second that horse is declared good to go back under saddle, he’ll be heading to Trainer B’s for at least a month. I seriously can’t even with that horse anymore.
So all hopes for a spring season may not be dashed after all. Which has me thinking about the events I’ve been to as both a rider and a spectator, and which ones I can maybe, just maybe, plan to get to this year.
It was so hard to pick a favorite. I loved going to Virginia HT when Trainer B competed P and really hope to get to compete there myself this year.
I will always be partial to Windridge. Maybe because we’ve won there before…
Also because they have a kick ass XC course.
But I have to say that my favorite among favorites has to be Carolina Horse Park.
All around, I just love the venue. The stalls are roomy, and designed to be able to conveniently hang things like saddle racks/bridle racks/hay nets/buckets, etc. The overhangs are great at keeping the rain off ya and are spacious enough to have trunks/hay bales in front of stalls.
Trashcans everywhere that are actually emptied DURING the show, so trash isn’t blowing out by Sunday. Small details like that matter.
Another favorite feature is that each stall has it’s own dual electric outlet. Perfect for a fan and a phone charger.
They have 2 areas for campers/LQs, both of which are about a 45 second drive to the barns. The hookups are far enough apart that no one has to park on top of each other either.
They partner with a nearby golf cart company, so you can have one delivered for the duration of the show for $45/day.
The only thing missing would be showers. If they’d add showers and a real restroom, that’d be perfection.
I believe they run only 2 USEA events throughout the year, in addition to Carolina International at the end of March, then from May-November, they host a schooling series called War Horse Event Series.
Timing has never worked out to where I’ve competed in one of their USEA events, but I have attended several of the WHES events and love how well run they all have been. Plus, stabling for Friday-Sunday is only $75 AND you don’t have to clean the stall at the end of the weekend. With a horse like P, there is no better deal than to NOT have to strip the stall.
But even though the cost for the schooling events is less than recognized, don’t think the competition is easy. It’s a big atmosphere at each of the shows, with all 8 barns being completely filled most months. They typically have around 300 entries per show, and offer HTs through Training and CTs through Advanced. As such, they hire real course designers for both show jumping and XC, and those courses are over the same tracks and jumps as you’ll find in their recognized shows.
Dressage is always interesting, as they run 6 rings at one time, so keeping your horse focused while there’s a bunch of horns/bells/SQUEAKY TOYS (of course for the ring we usually get put in) sounding off around you can be challenging at times.
Stadium they have two different arenas- one on grass for the little stuff (up to 2’3), and then BN+ in the Century Link arena.
The grass arena always has great footing and is slightly more quieter, which is great for the green horses and/or riders.
On the other side, the Century Link arena is quite busy with the barns on one end, another side taken up by loudspeakers and tents, and warmup on the other side. The courses are definitely never easy either.
And then there’s XC. While some horse trials I’ve been to never really change up their tracks, at CHP I’ve never seen the start box in the same place. Like stadium, they have two separate areas for the levels: starter (2’3″) and below uses a completely different track/course with BN+ in another.
If you do enough of these WHES events, you can qualify for the championships, which dishes out hefty prize money and goodies.
And as a cherry on top, they always have at least 2 food trucks onsite, and 2 mobile tack shops. For dinner, the venue is close to town with lots of restaurants to choose from.
It’s just under two hours from me, so I’m hoping to make it there at least once this year, or as many times as is on the schedule.
Of course that depends on, ya know, having a horse to ride.