U. S. Olympic team members return to international competition in Unionville

Members of the United States Olympic Equestrian team, including Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton of Chester County, will return to participate in the sixth annual three-day Plantation Field International Horse Trials and Country Fair.

“Our attendance has grown each year for this exciting three days of international competition and we’ve added wonderful attractions this year,” said Katie Walker of Plantation Field’s executive committee. “As one national equestrian organization stated, `Plantation Field International has turned into a destination event with huge local support. The facilities are superb, the parties outstanding and the attractions many.’”

The three days of Eventing competition, known as the triathlon of the horse world, will take place at picturesque Plantation Field, once part of the King Ranch, just outside of Unionville. On Friday, September 20, the Dressage phase will be held and admission is free. The parking fee for the Saturday, September 21 show jumping day and Sunday, September 22 Cross Country Day will be $20. The fee includes admission to the grounds for everyone in the car and a program.

Plantation Field is located at 387 Green Valley Road, Unionville. Competition each day will take place from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with main events beginning late morning each day. The shops and country fair operation begins at 9:00 a.m. Proceeds benefit the Cheshire Land Preservation Fund, The Barn at Spring Brook Farm, and the Chester County Food Bank.

Those interested in becoming a sponsor, purchasing tickets or becoming a volunteer should go to www.plantationfieldhorsetrials.com. A Plantation Platinum Club is new for our Presenting, Division, Gold, Silver and Bronze level sponsors this year. The club includes upscale surroundings in a comfortably decorated private tent complete with wait staff. All sponsors enjoy weekend VIP parking, promotional benets and access to the VIP tents for beverages, food, brunch, parties, and a place to relax.

Besides the Eventing competition and enjoying the spectacular view, spectators will be treated to a country fair. “This is a family-friendly event,” Walker said. “There will be activities for children, food and shops with equestrian themes. A parade of hounds will take place on Sunday and on the same day we’ll have a antique car exhibition and a antique carriage parade. Plantation Field is the perfect venue to spend time with the family.”

Last year a tailgating competition was added and this year the theme will be Downton Abbey after the PBS show from England. “Downton Abbey is widely popular and everyone loves the period costumes and traditions depicted on the show. This is a perfect theme for Plantation Field,” Walker said. “Tailgating is a wonderful tradition. It’s part of the festive atmosphere. We are going to enlist a guest judge and prizes will be awarded. Space is limited, so those interested should contact us.”

An added attraction this year will be live music. Other events include a Chester County craftsmen exhibition on Friday, celebrity bareback jumping on Saturday at noon, and a wine bistro and beer garden all day Saturday and Sunday.

“Plantation Field is important for the riders because the Eventing competition results are used to qualify for national and international championships,” said Plantation Field’s Amy Ruth Borun. “We are expecting more than 200 riders from Canada, the Midwest and East Coast to compete during the three days. Plantation Field is one of a few three-star competitions along the eastern seaboard. Some of the best riders and horses will be here.”

Eventing is comprised of three varied and challenging phases of competition, including dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping. Dressage consists of an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed area. Judging is based on balance, rhythm, suppleness and obedience of the horse and harmony with the rider. Cross country includes jumping of fences over a three-mile course and requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical condition. Show jumping tests the technical jumping skills of the horse and rider.

“Plantation Field is the perfect setting for the Eventing competition,” Walker said. “Chester County is a Mecca for all types of equestrian pursuits. Championship horses have been bred and trained in the county and some of the top riders in all disciplines of riding and jumping have called Chester County home.

Walker added, “We’re expecting large crowds this year. Last year we had more than 4,000 people for the three days of events.”

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