Last Day At Red Hills Allows Horses Gain Confidence

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By: Emily Johnson
March 9, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - The Red Hills International Horse Trials finished up yet another successful year. It was back to Stadium Jumping for the fourth and final day at Red Hills. Sunday was all about allowing less experience horses get exposure in a competitive environment.

"This is a great event to bring him that has a bit of atmosphere," said David Meyer, Competitor.

Meyer who is from New Zealand rides South Paw. He said they're still working with the 7-year-old stallion to get him to the next level. "Strangely enough this is a younger stallion, he hasn't done much at this level. He hasn't done much Eventing but he's a really good jumper," said Meyer.

Acclimating the horse to the atmosphere is also about understanding what their thinking. Competitor Erin Sylvester has a routine of gradually building up a horse's confidence before they compete.
"Most of the nervous ones I like to do is simplify the warm-up so you start with low fences and you build the fences up to get them jumping well," said Sylvester.

The U.S. Equestrian Coach, David O'Connor, said Red Hills is a great opportunity to scout the upcoming talent. "My chair is usually 90% faced toward the warm-up than the competition because you're always looking for horses and riders that show some talent," said O'Connor.

O'Connor also explained that many of the horses from Sunday's competition will be the premier horses used when it's time for the Olympics in a few years.

Before the Stadium Jumping began Sunday morning many people came out bright and early for the annual Cross Country Challenge. Race goers ran the course and jumped the obstacles just like the horses did. 169 runners came out and for one group from CrossFit Tallahassee all they could think about was the finish line. "The end, haha, just how it will feel to have accomplished it, just the fun of it and running it with some friends and the challenge," said Penny Smith.

The race organizers said next year they plan to have a competitor and a horse lead the runners through the course.

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