Red Hills Horse Trials 2022 underway in Tallahassee despite weather

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 1:15 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 2:31 PM EST
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The Red Hills Horse Trials are underway in Tallahassee!

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Some of the best equestrian competitors and horses in the world are in Tallahassee as the 2022 edition of the Red Hills Horse Trials is underway!

Organizers and participants prepared for rain Friday as the competition continued at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. The only time the event was canceled because of weather was in 1997 when the location was at a soccer complex that flooded.

Twelve years ago, the event moved to its current location, where the drainage system works much better. This year, the competition will go on rain or shine, with breaks for thunder or lightning to keep everyone safe.

Cross country course designer David O’Conner says rain and equestrian mix just fine.

Venda Stewart, the president of the Four Star Grand Jury, says the cross country course meets the group’s standards.

“Usually, courses are flat and dry. This is great fun and the horses just love it. The footing is excellent. They’ve worked hard over the last 10 to 12 years and it’s fabulous,” Stewart said.

Rain adds more work for staff maintaining the water jumps, but Stewart says the design makes for an easy fix.

“They’re basically like bathtubs. If God sprinkles extra, we can pull the plug out and regulate the distance,” Stewart said.

The designer’s main goal is to make everything safe for horses and riders while keeping tailgaters entertained.

Rider Alexa Lapp is from Pennsylvania. She says it’s rare to have a crowd, making this a great experience for the next level.

“There’s usually only a crowd at five-star events,” Lapp says.

Alyssa Phillips from Forth Worth, Texas, says the terrain of the park makes courses challenging.

“You’re having to go through all the trees so you have to walk your horses multiple times, and all the spectators, it’s very condensed. You really just have to know where you’re going and really be on it, because you can miss the line really easily and go off course. But, it’s one of my favorite events,” Phillips says.

Organizers also say the best part of the event is how up close and personal the crowd gets to the action, and once you see the sport in person, you’re hooked.

During WCTV’s noon show, dressage was underway. Cross country is scheduled for Saturday morning, while stadium jumping is set for Sunday.

Reporter Michelle Roberts interviewed Holly Jacks, a Canadian competitor at the 2022 Red Hills Horse Trials, live during WCTV's noon broadcast.

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