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Final Day of Red Hills Horse Trials

By: Lanetra Bennett; Mike Springer Email
By: Lanetra Bennett; Mike Springer Email

Update 3-11-12 By Mike Springer

From families, to riders and horse racing enthusiasts, nearly twenty thousand people came out to the Red Hills International Trials in Tallahassee this weekend for a glimpse of the action.

"It's something that's close and local. So it's been a lot of fun," says Jennifer McFatter.

Hugh Lochore helped lay the first posts at Red Hills 16 years ago.He's been there since its inception and has watched it grow into one of the sport's premiere events.

"The crowd that we get here, twenty, twenty thousand people, watching on the side gives them a really, really good precursor to the Rolex Kentucky three day event," says Lochore.

From endurance to speed everything is on display at Red Hills.
Out of all the events featured this year, Lochore says there is one event more than any other that draws in the crowds: the Cross Country Course.

"We have done a lot of work, particularly on the cross county course because that's the main element of the event to make it much more horse and rider friendly," says Lochore.

But the cross country course wasn't the biggest draw for everyone. Others came for something a little more simple. But just as sweet.

"I came for the ice cream," says Rachel McFatter.
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Update 3-10-12 By Mike Springer

"The best feeling in the world is coming through the fence pike off of one of these courses. It's unlike any other feeling you could have," says Michael Pollard, horse rider.

It's a feeling Michael Pollard has been lucky to know. He's been riding horses for almost 20 years. Competing on courses like this one at Red Hills for nearly 16 of them.

"The thing about these courses is that they test everything a horse can do. They have some fences that require a huge amount of jumping scope. And other fences are small and narrow. So every horse will have a different problem. But the thing at Red Hills is to try and get close to the time," says Pollard.

At Red Hills, time is everything. Especially on this important course. A course where a rider's results can have global ramifications.

For riders like Michael, this is what it comes down to. All those years of training. All that hard work. All for a chance to represent your country at the Olympics.

"It's the one time as a sport we get to really have teams and being able to support your teammates and be supported by your teammates and being able to represent your country and seeing people wave flags is unlike anything in the world," says Pollard.

Pollard won the team gold at last year's Pan-Am Games. He's hoping all his hard work and training will payoff as races for another gold 2012 Olympics Games in London

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This year's theme for the Red Hills International Horse Trials is "A Ticket To Ride."

Many riders are hoping to gain a spot on this summer's U.S. Olympic team.

Tallahassee's own Red Hills competition is the first step toward that goal.

Friday is the first day of this weekend's elite equestrian event.

Carolyn and Bill Springer are attending the Red Hills Horse Trials for the first time.

Their daughter, Alison Springer, won the CIC Three-Star last year. "We're hoping for a repeat." They say.

Mrs. Springer adds, It's lovely here. I just can't believe how friendly and beautiful the place is."

Top riders and horses from at least 28 states and ten countries are competing in this year's 14th event at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park.

It's the first hurdle toward the 2012 Olympic selection trials.

This is Danielle Dichting's fourth time competing at Red Hills. She says, "The thing that I love so much about this event is that the community really gets involved. It's really cool as a rider to feel like you're at a big event. Some of us aren't ready to go to the Olympics, yet. But, this gives us a kind of feel that we're at a big event."

The first day of Red Hills is Dressage, showing off the horses' athletic abilities and willingness to perform. Dressage is often called Horse Ballet.

The groomer for Phillip Dutton and his horse says preparing is a lot of work.

Alandra Halem says, "You have to get everything ready for the horse and the rider. All of the horses get reigned, usually in the morning. There's a lot of bathing involved, and really making sure that the horses are your top priority."

"It's my favorite one." Says, Dichting, referring to Red Hills.

Red Hills continues Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. For more information, go to the "Community" tab on the wctv.tv homepage and click on "Red Hills Horse Trials 2012."


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