Event riders tired of competing in stifling August temperatures on rock-hard ground might consider putting GMHA’s Festival of Eventing on their summer calendar. Plans for the inaugural three-competition Festival, to be held in South Woodstock, Vermont August 6-12 (opening date June 26), call for a Novice/Training long-format three-day Tuesday through Thursday, a Beginner Novice/Novice one-day horse trial on Friday, capped off by a two-day Beginner Novice through Intermediate horse trial over the weekend.
In addition to Eventing competition, a focus of Festival planning is to provide a fantastic, Vermont-themed competitor and spectator experience. Organizers have lined-up multiple fun activities and welcome amenities for the week including competitor parties, a trade fair featuring Vermont products as well as nationally-known equestrian and other vendors, and family entertainment. South Woodstock and the surrounding area also offer an incredible variety of things to do from sports (golfing, biking, hiking, climbing and of course, riding) to just relaxing, as well as terrific shopping and dining.
The courses at GMHA have undergone extensive renovation over the past year in anticipation of the Festival, with new jumps and complexes at all levels as well as improved footing and drainage throughout the 65-acre property. Course designer Tremaine Cooper, assisted by Janine McClain, has created up-to-level, educational tracts that fully utilize GMHA’s fields, hills and water crossings.
Festival organizers hope to attract riders from outside New England, including some U.S. Team members and Olympic hopefuls who might welcome cooler temperatures and softer footing. The re-introduction of the Intermediate level, coupled with a long-format three-day as well as one-day and two-day horse trials, $10,000 in prize money, a slate of entertainment options and proximity to complimentary venues such as Millbrook provide plenty of incentive for competitors to plan on attending the Festival. The same features will hopefully entice spectators to GMHA to learn more about the sport of Eventing and to have a fun, summer holiday.
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