ELKTON — After a long delay due to COVID-19, Fair Hill International (FHI) is saddling up for their first unrecognized starter horse trials of the year on September 5 at the Cecil County Fairgrounds in Elkton, Maryland.
The day of Dressage, Show Jumping, and Cross Country for Elementary, Introductory, Beginner Novice, and Novice riders is “the perfect way to get started in the sport of Eventing,” the organization said.
The starter trials illustrate FHI’s slogan “From Green to Gold” — meaning they embrace and welcome newer (green) riders and horses to the scene and see many competitors advance to recognized events and even the Olympics. The organization touts riders of all skill sets, from the advanced-level riders on their green horses to the 7-year-old rider doing their first event.
“We really do cover every level and everyone should just be having fun,” Competition Manager Mary Coldren said, emphasizing the low-pressure environment of the starter trials.
With Dressage held at the Fairgrounds and Show Jumping and Cross Country in the Saw Mill Field, it’s hard to imagine a site better-suited to soak up the equestrian scene. The grounds are rich in riding history and situated among “rolling countryside ideal for long gallops,” as Board Member Rupert Rossetti described. The land was once the personal fox hunting property for William DuPont Jr. The banker, who owned thoroughbreds and had an affinity for horse-track designing, helped bring horse-racing to the Mid-Atlantic and created the original racetrack at Fair Hill, according to Hagley.org.
Spectators are normally invited to enjoy the grounds and event for free, but this year COVID-19 restrictions only allow for staff, officials, competitors, volunteers and other essential personnel to attend.
“The best way for someone to come out and participate is to volunteer,” FHI Secretary Fran Loftus said. While volunteering has the obvious appeal of being right in the action and taking in the Cecil County scenery, Loftus also underscores the importance of riders volunteering to become more aware of their own performances.
The fun isn’t over after the event. As always, FHI offers schooling on the very same courses the Tuesday and Saturday after the trials. Click here for more information on upcoming events with Fair Hill International.