Red Hills CIC3* Cross Country Course Preview

Fence 8A - Boathouse Approach. Photo by Shems Hamilton. Fence 8A - Boathouse Approach. Photo by Shems Hamilton.

Good morning from Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida! CIC3* dressage kicks off this morning, with show jumping and cross country tomorrow. Now in his second year of designing the CIC3* course, Mike Etherington-Smith said in his Designer’s View that this year’s course is tougher than last year.

“The course itself starts and finishes in the same place and my feeling is that it’s a touch bigger than last year,” Mike said. “I am still mindful that it is early in the season, but this is a three-star competition and as such it does need to be, and is, up to standard.”

The course starts and ends in the same place as last year, and the lines and flow are similar to last year as well. Mike has opened up several additional areas, including a loop in the middle of the course, to give a different feel and continue bringing more open space to the course.

“As always I want horses and riders to have a positive experience and benefit from their round,” Mike said. “Quite often at this stage of the year there are a few cobwebs that need blowing out after the winter break, but competitors will be mindful that the event is an important qualification opportunity and will want to put in a good performance.”

Developing the footing continues to be one of Mike’s major priorities, and the footing is definitely improved this year, with the newer turf much more established. The live oak trees with Spanish moss make for picturesque viewing for spectators, but they also up the level of difficulty.

“As course designer I have to be conscious of the mental effect that this can have on the horses,” Mike said. “It is very easy to have a course that is too busy if not careful.”

Shout out to course builders Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert and course decorator Corinne Mathis — the track looks stunning! Many thanks to Shems Hamilton for providing these beautiful photos of each fence on the CIC3* course. Stay tuned for much more from Red Hills. Go Eventing.

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