Organizers End Red Hills Horse Trials

The event has run annually since 1997 in Elinor Klapp Phipps Park in northwest Tallahassee.
Red Hills Horse trials ending
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:12 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 7:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Its Board of Directors is terminating the Red Hills International Horse Trials, which for 25 years has been a signature event for North Florida.

“Red Hills International Horse Trials has run its last,” event organizers announced. “This is certainly a difficult decision...”

The event has run annually since 1997 in Elinor Klapp Phipps Park in northwest Tallahassee, drawing competitors from across the country and around the world, and upwards of 500 community volunteers.

“Recognized as a Leon County Legacy Event, Red Hills has been generously supported by funding from Visit Tallahassee and Leon County Tourist Development for many years,” the group wrote on Facebook.

Organizers said the focus of the sport is changing, after a reorganization of the Eventing Calendar by the United States Equestrian Federation. This “will radically impact Red Hills and sorely challenge its financial sustainability,” the group says.

For years, Red Hills has been designated as a four-star division event, meaning it’s an important qualifier for the Olympics.

But this year, organizers say the U.S. Equestrian Federation denied Red Hills’s application to retain that four-star level.

“When we lost that, we lost the ability to attract the top-level riders in the sport,” organizer Jane Barron said.

Without those high-profile riders, Barron says Red Hills won’t be able to raise enough money to continue operating.

For longtime fans, the news is devastating.

“I couldn’t believe it to be honest,” Sally Griner said.

Griner has been attending the horse trials nearly every year since 1997.

“It’s tradition,” she said. “It’s been a longtime part of Tallahassee. It’s really helped generate interest in love for the horse sports.”

Now, organizers and fans are looking back, cherishing memories made in the last 25 years, as they mourn the loss of this beloved Tallahassee tradition.

“As always, thanks to all the coordinators that put on Red Hills over the years and everybody who lobbied for us to be able to keep running it this year,” Griner said. “But I know in the end it just wasn’t gonna work.”

“We value the tremendous support Red Hills has received through the many years from the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, and the Northwest Florida Water Management District as well as from our volunteers, our sponsors, and crowds of spectators,” the group’s statement says. “Red Hills International Horse Trials has had a strong run. We have much to be proud of as we say our goodbye.”

A spokesperson from US Equestrian said the event was well-publicized and included feedback from key stakeholder groups, including athletes, organizers, and the national affiliate - the United States Eventing Association. The spokesperson said they are sad to see this event leave the calendar.

“The Eventing Strategic Calendar was created over a two-year period utilizing analysis of data to address competition density and provide an optimal pathway of preparation for major international events and championships for U.S. athletes,” the spokesperson from US Equestrian said. “We appreciate all that the organizers of Red Hills International Horse Trials have done to grow and support the sport of eventing over the years.”

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