Spectators next week will have the rare opportunity to watch Olympian equestrians and their horses galloping across 250 acres of pristine Unionville countryside, jumping immense fences and competing in the technical dance of dressage and the challenging test of stadium jumping over the course of three days. Family friendly activities are planned for the entire weekend.
The second annual Plantation Field International Horse Trials will be held Sept. 18 through 20 off Route 82 just past the village of Unionville. The competition is one in only a handful of competitions at this level in the country, attracting the top equestrian athletes in the sport of three-day eventing.
A three-day event can be described as a triathlon for horses and riders. Over the course of three days three phases must be competed successfully with the scores accumulating to determine a winner. There is a dressage phase on Friday, a test requiring precise movements through the paces of walk, trot and canter.
Saturday is a marathon of sorts, the exciting cross country phase to test the speed, endurance and jumping ability. Horse and rider jump as many as 35 challenging fences with jumps every 110 meters. The final phase Sunday is stadium jumping to test the horse ability to jump a tighter course of fences after the strenuous endurance challenge the day before.
The September event at Plantation Field will include three levels of competition, a one-star event for horses just being introduced to international competition, a two-star for those with more experience and the headliner, a three-star for advanced horses that have been well tested in international competitions. There are only five four-star events, the highest level, held in the world
This year the event will benefit The Barn at Springbrook Farm, a local charity that provides children with disabilities animal-assisted activities and physical therapy.
Organizer Denis Glaccum and his wife Bambi have been running horse trials, big and small, at the international level and for beginners, beginning 23 years ago at Fair Hill. Eight years ago he developed the venue at Mr. and Mrs. Cuyler Walker's Plantation Field. Most recently they have held seven events over six weekends, four nationally sanctioned and three started trials for lower level competitors. Every year the course has been refined and improved, maximizing the natural features of the property.
Glaccum said Plantation Field is the one of the greatest cross country venues in the world for competitors, but also for spectators who can view 90 percent of the cross country course from their vantage point on the hillside.
"I've always wanted to take the September event and offer a high quality, world class international horse trial that's fun, that will attract the community and become a community event," he said.
To that end, spectator friendly festivities for all ages fill the weekend. Shoppers will enjoy the vendor village with shops selling luxury clothing, riding attire and gear, outdoor clothing, crafts, as well as food, desserts and more. The Kids' Corner will feature face painting, a petting zoo (Saturday), crafts and a moon bounce. Friday night there will be a kids' on-foot jumping competition with the final round at lunchtime Saturday. Other lunchtime entertainment includes a parade of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds and a "celebrity" bareback high jump competition. Sunday Brunch will honor Chester County's seven Olympians with a special presentation by Colonel Oliver North.
There will be no entrance to the event off of Route 82. Instead sponsors and spectators will turn off Route 82 at Green Valley Road and proceed to the parking areas from there.
VIP and general admission advanced ticket sales are available on the website. General admission tickets cost $25 per day per car-full. A VIP pass is good for the entire weekend and includes two official programs and the best parking spots, next to the show jumping arena for $125.
For more information, visit the Web site plantationfieldhorsetrials.com and click on the International CIC tab.