Eventing competition will attract 500 riders
From Staff Reports
With the Summer Olympics in London, equine dressage competition has been in the headlines, and tends to have a somewhat lightweight reputation — perfectly coiffed men and women in top hats and tails perched prettily on top of overpriced hay burners.
That is not the case with the Olympic sport of eventing, an equestrian triathlon that is a test of skill, strength, and partnership.
“Eventing has its roots in the cavalry, so we’re talking white knuckle, take-your-breath-away feats of athleticism on the part of both horses and riders, who participate in three different phases over several days,” said spokesperson Maria Hanson. “Unlike most other sports, men and women compete on equal terms, in the same divisions. The horse is the equalizing factor, and these horses are unlike any you will see in competition.”
At the top levels during the sport’s signature phase of cross-country, expect to see them leap off banks almost as high as a refrigerator, jump some fences practically as narrow as a doorway, and bound across ditches as wide as your average car, she said.
At the Nutrena AEC, top horses and riders at every level, from juniors and adult amateurs to Olympic veterans, will battle for more than $70,000 in prize money and nearly $100,000 in prizes — not to mention bragging rights.
Bouckaert Farm, the host site, is 8,000 acres filled with rolling pastures, lakes, and woodlands running 12 miles along the Chattahoochee River. The farm is just 15 miles west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport and a short drive from South Fulton Parkway.
This event is one of the most spectator-friendly in the nation — almost every cross-country obstacle on the several-mile course can be seen from convenient locations throughout the farm.
More than 50 vendors will be on hand selling everything from fine art, jewelry, clothing and handmade goods to horse-related tack and equipment, not to mention a variety of food and beverages.
“Make no mistake,” said the farm’s owner, Carl Bouckaert, “this will be a true festival of eventing and fun for the whole family.”
A patron’s tent will provide catered meals in a relaxing atmosphere and will give spectators the best seats in the house. Passes may be purchased on the Chatt Hills website at www.chatthillseventing.com .
General admission and parking are free. Gates will open each day at approximately 8 a.m. with competition ending each day around 5 p.m.
The tentative schedule includes dressage on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 6 and 7, cross country Friday and Saturday, and show jumping Saturday and Sunday.
Bouckaert Farm at Chattahoochee Hills is located at 10045 Cedar Grove Road, Fairburn, GA 30213. Directions and maps, as well as more information about the host site, can be found atwww.chatthillseventing.com .
For more information about the sport of eventing, the U.S. Eventing Association, and the Nutrena USEA AEC, visit www.useventing.com .
Eventing is best described as an equestrian triathlon, with three phases that test the competitors’ skills in the ring, over fences, and galloping across the countryside. Dressage, a sort of equestrian ballet, tests the horse and rider’s ability to perform a series of prescribed classical movements in an enclosed arena.