Plantation Horse Trials, Sept 16-18

Equestrian triathlon, country fair and loads of fun for the whole family, just $25 per car load ($20 in advance)

By Hannah Christopher, Staff Writer,

The Plantation International Horse Trials and Fair combines three different, challenging events for equestrians — and attracts some of the top riders in the world. Photo by Cuyler Walker.

This might be the coolest horse event — and possibly the most extreme — you’ll come across in the Unionville area. Think a mix of extreme equestrian sports, numerous former Olympians, a good, old-fashioned country fair and you’re barely scratching the surface — and it’s all taking place just minutes from your door.

The Plantation International Horse Trials and Fair will take place over the weekend of  September 16-18 for a three day event.  This year will be the fourth year for this annual event to take place in beautiful West Marlborough Township.

On August 23rd, earthquake day morning, I met with Katie Walker to find out what this Plantation Field Event is all about.  I was clueless and was educated from a savvy and inspirational woman on  Eventing 101.

Photo by Cuyler Walker.

Katie said to me, “About ten years ago a man came to the door and said he had an idea for the property.”  (The property is 300+ acres and owned by Katie and Cuyler Walker along route 82 in West Marlborough Township.) The property at the time had cows in the field and majestic views of Chester County.  This man was Denis Glaccum and he went on to tell Katie that he thought this land could be a top world class venue for horse trials. It turns out Glaccum is an expert in horse eventing and is a member of the USEA Hall of Fame. He is now the course designer and event organizer for the Plantation Field 3 day event. This all came about from a knock on the door, Katie said, “Think of this event as a triathlon for the horses and their riders.  They do a different event on each day.  On Friday they do dressage which is like a horse doing ballet.  The horse has to do very precise movements.”

On Saturday the second phase is held and that is cross country for the horses and their riders.  Katie explained to me, “This is extreme riding, like the X-Games of riding!  Full speed jumping over natural barriers  and obstacles that are built out of brush, wood and water jumps.”  She said, “These are the same horses that on Friday were doing precise movements in dressage.”

Photo by Cuyler Walker.

The third phase of this horse triathlon is on Sunday, and on this day the 250 competitors will be participating in stadium jumping.  Stadium jumping is more traditional rails and held in a riding ring or arena and different from the natural obstacles that the horses jump over on Saturday.  Out of the 250 competitors signed up, five of them are past and future Olympians in this sport.  The five are the following: Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Karen O’Connor and Bruce and Buck Davidson (father and son).

In addition to the wonderful horse sporting event, there will also be a traditional country fair.  Walker says, “For twenty five dollars each day (pay at the gate $25 per carload day of the event, $20 in advance) you can bring your families out to the country, shop, eat, entertain the kids, see the competition, tailgate and enjoy the scenery.”  There will be fair food available for purchase, face painting, animal petting, clowns, moon bounce and ice cream, of course!

The animals for the petting zoo are also the same animals from the Barn at Spring Brook Farm.  This is one of the organizations that will benefit from the money raised at the 3 day event. It is a farm in a rural area of West Chester that provides animal assisted activities for children with disabilities according to their web site. The other beneficiary is the Cheshire Land Preservation Fund which is fitting because 90 of the preserved acres that the event is held on actually is owned by the organization.

Coming from a person who knew absolutely nothing about this Olympic event, and now feeling newly informed by Katie Walker, I am looking forward to  the Plantation International Horse trial 3 day eventing weekend. If you would like more information go to their web site for ticket information and volunteer opportunities.

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