IMG_1316aLast weekend July 10-12 was the annual event known as the Stuart horse trials.  This is an annual event that takes place just south of Victor.  Competitors come in from all across our state, neighboring states, and even Canada.  Competitors can compete at various levels from the beginner novice all the way up to CIC2.  The CIC is part of the qualification system for writers that wish to compete in such events as the Olympics, Pan-American games, and world equestrian games.  The CIC qualification draws international competitors.

The Stuart Horse Trial is a three-day event that starts on Friday and continues through Sunday.  Each day is focused on one particular phase of the competition.  Day one is all about dressage.  In this phase horses compete in a flat arena and consists of a series of movements that are designed to show the communication between a horse and its rider.  Each horse moves through three gaites, the trot, the walk and the Canter.  Contestants are judged on the quality of the gaite, the desire to move forward, acceptance of the bridle and ease of movement, and the physician and seat of the rider.

Second day is the cross country competition.  This is a test of obedience, jumping ability, bravery and fitness.  Each team negotiates a series of jumps that have been set up to blend in nicely with the rolling countryside.  There are jumps on level ground, some uphill jumps and some downhill jumps.  There are challenging grades as well as tests of bravery.  One jump in particular is especially difficult for the horses as they are asked to jump down into a body of water that they are unfamiliar with.  It takes a great deal of trust between the horse and rider to complete this task.

I was able to get a front row seat at this test of will.  I put together a short slideshow of some of the horses as they complete this “splash” test.

It was amazing to watch the horses approach this water hazard.  The majority of the ones I saw took the plunge without hesitation.  There were two or three that showed a small amount of hesitation, only one that I saw completely refused.  In this case, the rider took the horse into the water from the road that passed through the creek.  After a brief introduction to the water, she retried the jump and was rewarded with the successful completion.  There was resounding applause.

Day three of the trial is the show jumping phase.  In this phase the jumps are inside an arena and are the familiar colored rails.  In this phase the highest score competes first(the highest score are the lowest ranked horses).

I was very impressed at how well run this event was.  There were volunteers from all over the area.  Especially prominent were the ski patrol members who provided parking assistance as well is running carts to transport visitors from one side of the grounds to another.  Overall I was impressed by the well-kept grounds, the professionalism that I saw, and of course the competitors.

Thank you Stuart horse trials for a wonderful weekend.