Members of the United States Olympic Equestrian team, including Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton of Chester County, will return to participate in the 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 Plantation Field, once part of the King Ranch, just outside of Unionville. On Sept. 20, the dressage phase will be held, and admission is free. The parking fee for the Sept. 21 show jumping day and the Sept. 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 at 387 Green Valley Rd., Unionville. Competition each day will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with main events beginning in the late morning each day. The shops and country fair open at 9 a.m. Proceeds benefit the Cheshire Land Preservation Fund, The Barn at Spring Brook Farm, and the Chester County Food Bank.
"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 an antique car exhibition and an 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. "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 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.
Walker added, "We're expecting large crowds this year. Last year, we had more than 4,000 people for the three days of events."