It’s that time of the year! Plantation Field International Horse Trials in beautiful Unionville, Pennsylvania is one of EN’s favorite event of the entire season. This year the CIC3* is streaming live on USEF Network, but if you live locally in the area, there are so many reasons to come out and watch in person. Here are 10 things we love about the Best. Event. Ever.
1. Competition: The divisions at Plantation Field are always packed with the best horses and riders on the East Coast, and this year doesn’t disappoint. More than 40 horses and riders will battle it out for top honors in the prestigious CIC3* division, which is part of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series. The CIC2* is packed to the brim with nearly 90 entries, and the CIC* divisions also boast more than 80 entries.
2. View: Plantation Field continues to offer one of the best viewing experiences for cross country in the U.S. You can perch yourself on top of one of the many rolling hills and almost see the entire course. If you smell a delightful aroma while watching the action on Sunday, it’s coming from Steve Berkowitz’s grill, where he flips his famous burgers during cross country.
3. Hospitality: Plantation Field is well known for treating riders and owners like kings and queens. All CIC riders and owners eat and drink for free all weekend for every meal, as well as at the great parties hosted each night. We can vouch for the fact that the food and beverages are always delicious.
4. Course: Mike Etherington-Smith will once again bring a top-notch track to Plantation Field as the CIC3* and CIC2* course designer. New fences have been added to the course, courtesy of Eric Bull and ETB Construction. Nina Fout has also worked alongside Mike to design the CIC* course as part of Plantation Field’s Course Designer Development Program.
5. Tailgating: Not only do you get a great view of cross country when tailgating at Plantation Field, but the intensity of the theme competition increases every year. This year tailgaters will go all out with the Septemberfest theme to impress a panel of celebrity judges in the hopes of winning prizes from local favorite The Whip Tavern. Which famous face might be stopping by your tailgate as a judge?
6. Shopping: This year’s Vendor Village will be bigger and better than ever with more than 50 businesses located under one big tent to allow for shopping in all weather conditions. The Plantation Field Vendor Village has it all: saddle and tack shops, jewelry, clothing, boots, antiques and artwork, furniture and accessories, outerwear, and sweets and treats.
7. Beverages: It’s easy to have a good time at Plantation Field with so many tasty beverages flowing all weekend, and this year the sprawling Victory Biergarten sponsored by local favorite Victory Brewing Company will offer beer tastings, delectable German food and live music for those 21 and older.
8. Themes: Dancing With The Stars, Downton Abbey and Down Under in the Aussie Outback have delighted competitors and spectators alike over the past few years at Plantation Field, and this year’s Septemberfest theme will bring an authentic Oktoberfest flair to the festivities. The popular Saturday night party for sponsors, CIC riders and CIC owners will showcase the theme in full force, with a performance from a polka band and other authentic German entertainment throughout the evening.
9. High Jump: Plantation Field pioneered the concept of a bareback puissance, and this year the event is upping the ante once more with the new Legends High Jump. Three legends of eventing, foxhunting and steeplechasing will face off against three young rising stars in an unforgettable high jump competition on Sunday. The winners will take home $1,000 in prize money courtesy of everyone’s favorite vet Dr. Kevin Keane and Sports Medicine Associates.
10. Beneficiaries: Plantation Field has long given back to worthy causes in the community, and this year proceeds will benefit Work to Ride, which gives disadvantaged urban youth the opportunity to learn to ride and care for horses. The Chester County Food Bank, Barn at Spring Brook Farm and Cheshire Land Preservation will also benefit from proceeds.
This year Charles Owen is also sponsoring a special presentation recognizing Olympic bronze medalists Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. It will be the grand finale of the entire event and a chance to get up close and person with Phillip and Happy. Click here to see the full spectator schedule and here to see the competitor schedule.
Admission is free on Friday, with general admission on Saturday and Sunday just $20 per carload. For more information or to become a sponsor, vendor, volunteer or place an ad in the annual magazine, please visit www.plantationfieldht.com. Tickets and tailgate passes can be purchased in advance on the website. Follow Plantation Field Horse Trials on Facebook for news and updates.