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Holly Hill Spring Horse Trials This Weekend!

Bristol and Erika
Bristol and Erika volunteering as ‘jump judges’ at the Holly Hill Horse Trials

Just like clock work, each Spring and each Fall, eventers from around the country descend on Holly Hill Farm in Benton for the Holly Hill Horse Trials which will take place this weekend. They start tomorrow (Friday) and run through Sunday. Holly Hill plays host to the only two recognized events in the entire state of Louisiana. Over 300 horse and rider teams are expected to participate at this weekend’s event and you’ll find tons of vendors and concessions on site. Plus, it’s free to attend! I’ll be working Saturday as a dressage scribe for judge Bill Woods. I’m looking forward to learning a LOT! I’ve volunteered the last several trials as a jump judge and had big fun!

BTW, we have two local riders (that I know of) who are ranked nationally. Myself, along with several other of her students, are trying to help raise money to advance local hopeful Julie Norman to Rolex 2014. Won’t you consider a donation or perhaps come buy a raffle ticket (or 20) this weekend? While you’re there, cheer on our other hometown hopeful Sydney Conley Elliot! I can’t even describe how cool it would be to have two riders represent our great state!


In case you were wondering what a ‘horse trial’ was, here’s the explanation I found on the Holly Hill website. It explains everything way better than I could;) Check underneath the pics!

Holly Hill Spring Horse Trials 2011
Great day on the XC course!

What Are Horse Trials?

Horse Trials are also called Eventing. A full phase event is called a Three Day Event (like in the Olympics) because it takes place over three days; Dressage the first day, Cross-Country (Speed & Endurance) phase next, and Stadium Jumping on the last day. Horse Trials are scaled down versions which take place over one or two days. Holly Hill Horse Trials is a two day competition for Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Preliminary, and Intermediate levels. As the levels progress the jumps are correspondingly higher, wider and more difficult, and the speeds are faster.

Success in this sport requires horse and rider to develop as a team. They must be adaptable, bold and athletic. Eventers take pride in developing their horses’ fitness level and they incorporate a training schedule that will allow them to achieve competency in all three disciplines.


The dressage test consists of a series of movements performed in an arena and judged subjectively. Precision, smoothness and obedience must be demonstrated to show the horse’s gymnastic development through progressive levels of skill. A percentage score is converted to penalties which are carried forward to the next phase.


This discipline is considered to be the most exciting part of eventing. Holly Hill Horse Trials has cross-country courses for the following levels: Intermediate, Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice. Cross-country is ridden over solid obstacles and varied terrain at an optimum speed assigned for each level. Heights for obstacles range depending on level. Penalties are assessed for horse refusals, run-outs, falls and being over optimum time. Also a rider can receive penalties for being too fast.

Show Jumping

This phase consists of a simple stadium jumping course which demonstrates that the horse is capable of an obedient and supple effort after a day of exhilarating cross-country. And yes, the horses do know the difference between a solid and unfixed fence rail! Penalties are assessed for refusals, knock-downs, falls and being over the time limit.

At the end of the competition, the rider with the fewest combined penalties is the winner.

Find out more about eventing by clicking here.

Show/Stadium Jumping schooling

The Drive Up to Holly Hill… as I spill my coffee!

The XC course from my perspective as a jump judge

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