When you look back at your riding career, there’s always a few examples of certain people or situations that lead you to where you are today, and for me, the Penny Ross Schooling Shows are a prime suspect in my current obsession with 3-Day Eventing. This is a series of several events throughout the eventing year held in and around Charlottesville Virginia, and organized and created by the hard working Penny Ross.
Brian and Penny Ross moved to Virginia in 1982 to work for the Virginia Horse Center, and to introduce the Horse Trials to the facility. Penny was approached by a local farm to create schooling shows to encourage more people to try 3-Day Eventing, and to reach out to the younger crowd. And thus, the Penny Ross Schooling Event Series was born. Now, there are horse trials and combined tests hosted by several different farms in the area, making it unique in the world of schooling shows due to the individual facilities where we compete.
Every single person who does Eventing at any level in this central Virginia area, has at some point been to one of these schooling shows. I started my Eventing obsession at the tender age of 12, when I bought a pony for $5 from a friend of my mother’s. Said pony was far too
feral and unbroke complicated to do any other kind of showing, so off we went to Eventing. I have started every single one of my horses since that point by going to a Penny Ross show. Not only are they great for young horses, but they are also amazing for little kids, who can compete in a cross rails division and a walk-trot dressage division against other little kids.
This year, course designer and jump judge Mark Combs (himself a legendary Eventer way back when) decided to introduce a new competitive aspect to the show series. Mark called up all of the Event riders in the Charlottesville area and cajoled us all into donating one jump each for an upcoming combined test. The idea was to create the best decorated jump, and we would be competing against all of our friends and neighbors for a prize. I went crazy and spent hours painting an entire underwater scene on my jump, only to be thwarted by individuals with far greater carpentry skills. The grand prize winner was Kiki Osbourne and Dappir Ridge Eventing! Not only was the show jumping course much more interesting this time around, but it was really exciting to see how each farm or family imparted their own personal touch on the jump that they donated.
I caught up with Penny at Millington Stables on a Saturday, where she had organized a combined test, and chatted with her about the series.
Goodness knows that young horses and riders are encouraged by local shows, and the Penny Ross Schooling series really goes above and beyond the call of duty. Many thanks to all of the farms who lend us their facilities, the judges and course designers who donate their time and considerable skills, and of course to Penny herself, who is the mastermind behind the whole thing! Go local Eventing!