The Trials of Equestrian Sports
Hosting horse events is worth the effort.
Some folks love the spectacle. Others are drawn to the spirit of the competition. Most thoroughly enjoy a grand day in the country, but hosting horse trials is not for the weak-hearted. Organizing equestrian events is no walk on the farm.
Depending on the level of sophistication, a host might need to secure sponsors, assemble a luncheon committee, design and mail invitations, organize routes and jumps, prepare a menu, hire caterers and staff, choose market vendors, and perform a slew of other duties that take months of research and planning. Preparations for annual competitions often begin as soon as the last competitor the previous year has dismounted.
Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials host and founder Fernanda Kellogg, 61, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kellogg runs a New York City foundation during the week and fantasizes about her 130-acre weekend horse farm in Upstate New York as one would a favorite vacation destination. She commutes an hour and a half every Friday afternoon from Manhattan to enjoy the serene atmosphere of her country residence, only to retrace the path Monday morning. A simple philosophy backs her decision to run summer trials there for the past 14 years: “The fun,” Kellogg says, is “putting on a great day for riders who love the sport of eventing and, of course, the spirit of the horse.”
She isn’t alone in her appreciation of the sport. Originally conceived to test Army horses to assure animals were fit for combat, eventing has been an Olympic sport since 1912 when only active Army officers using military charges participated. What began as a five-day competition has spawned several variations.
The standard three-day format originated at the 1924 Paris Olympics, the first time the event was open for civilians. This format introduced the three universal components of eventing: dressage, cross country and stadium (or show) jumping.
Horse and rider
Dressage measures how well a horse and rider perform a predetermined set of ballet-like movements. These movements, which Kellogg describes as a “test of obedience reflected in the precision of horse and rider,” celebrate the horse’s success in training for balance and suppleness. Judges identify violations and assign penalties as they study the horse’s fluidity and how well the rider handles her animal. Each movement is scored individually; the final mark is computed using a special algorithm.
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