A few days ago Nadia posted a pretty great blog hop, asking everyone to post about their favorite event or horse show. I think that’s a brilliant idea, so here we go!
I admit, I sat here forever trying to figure out what my overall favorite event would be. There are so many different factors, like the footing, quality of the facilities, general atmosphere, beauty of the location. sentimental favorite, etc. I was hard pressed to come up with one that ticked all the boxes, yet there’s something I like about pretty much every venue we’ve shown at.
My original favorite venue in Area 5 was definitely Greenwood. I come from h/j world, where everything tends to look so manufactured and overdone, so there’s something very appealing to me about an “old school” type of event. Greenwood was one. Dressage was on grass, the cross country was legit and had good use of terrain, and showjumping was on grass as well. I’ve always liked that, even if it means I have to stud more. Of course, for the sake of my horse I do also like the perfectly groomed, fancy footing in the arenas at places like Texas Rose and Chatt Hills. You can’t argue with great footing.
The one thing I didn’t like much at Greenwood was the tent stabling… lord it was squished in real tight. Greenwood ended and was sold several years ago though, so sadly it is no more.
After that I really liked Holly Hill a lot. Again, it has a bit of that old school vibe to me, dressage on grass, and a wide open xc with classic questions and a few gently rolling hills. Their stadium ring was a bit small but now they’ve built a new, bigger one that is quite nice. The only bummer is that it’s in nowheresville Louisiana and there’s not much nearby. Also if you get stuck in the tent stabling that’s in the covered arena, you will eat dust all weekend. Still a really top notch gorgeous facility though, and definitely up there among my favorite events.
My sentimental, “hometown” favorite will always be Pine Hill. Talk about a vintage eventing feel – that facility has it. It’s where we school the most often, and it’s where a lot of firsts have happened for us, so it’ll always hold a special place with me. Half of the course is in the woods, which is fun, but Henry is really spooky back there, so it’s not necessarily my favorite XC to ride with him. Although last month he sure did blast through there like a man with a plan, so maybe he’s getting more mature about it? Still, the more open XC courses like MeadowCreek and Texas Rose have always tended to suit him more.
Last year we evented at 6 different venues, and if you made me pick my favorite of those, it would be Willow Draw. It was our first time showing there, but I liked it a lot. Mostly because the showjumping was on a bit of a hillside, and I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. The XC was fun too, a little bit twisty and tricky in spots, but it rode well. The stalls are big and airy, I was able to park my trailer mere FEET away from where we were stabled, the warmup is huge, and the dressage isn’t so busy that it freaks my horse out (looking at you, Texas Rose). Their show is smaller, restricted to a relatively low number of entries, which makes it feel a little more chill. Quite liked it, will definitely be back.
If you really forced me to pick a favorite though, I think it might be Coconino. There’s really no great reason why, the event is a bit of a “cowboy” affair compared to many we go to. The dressage rings are set up on the racetrack (boy that’s fun when you have an ex-racehorse), the showjumping is nothing fancy, the footing on XC tends to be on the hard side (granted, it often is in Texas too), the stabling has seen better days, the elevation is very high, and there aren’t any permanent bathrooms or showers onsite. BUT – they have a great spirit about them, good parties, great prizes, it smells like pine trees, there’s no humidity, it legit feels like summer camp, and it’s in the lovely town of Flagstaff. I had so much fun at those shows, and my horse was so happy in their weather.
The event has a real “get ‘er done” quality to it that I like so much… it’s authentic eventing, as it always was. No carousels, no on-site sushi restaurants, no jumbotrons, no derby fields being passed off as XC, no VIP tents. There is zero pomp and circumstance to it, and I love it. You make it work, you enjoy nature, and you create your own good time in a beautiful city. I really hope we’re able to make it back there this year.
Maybe I cheated a little bit here on this post, but… there’s a lot to like at so many places. Sure, none of them tick all the boxes, but there’s something great to be found in every event, and I’m appreciative that they’re still around and available to us. It’s not easy to own and maintain these venues, or to put on these events, so I’m grateful for them all.