Lexington, VA — The final rendition of the VHT International & Horse Trials took place November 3-6, 2022 at the Virginia Horse Center. After more than 30 years of quality eventing competition, the Virginia Horse Trials leaves behind a special legacy and contribution to the sport.
VHT was founded by Brian and Penny Ross in 1989. Andy and Angela Bowles took the reins in 2015. VHT has been a mainstay and destination event on the East Coast throughout its history, regularly hosting 500-600 entries in recent years, catering to amateurs and professionals alike from Starter through CCI3* levels.
Following the May 2022 event, the Virginia Horse Center withdrew from contract negotiations with the organizers to continue running VHT. The Bowles hope to continue running the event on the same dates at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC, pending USEF approval.
For the VHT staff, the conclusion of the event in its current form is deeply felt. It is the end of an era that is difficult to sum up in words as we bid VHT – as we know it – a fond farewell.
Andy Bowles, Co-Organizer: “I’ve always said that running an event of this magnitude is a team effort. Every single staff member and volunteer is part of the team, but we’ve also grown as a family over the last eight years. I’m unendingly grateful to the people, competitors, and family for all their support over the years. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication. Thank you to our customers – over 500 starters! – who turned out for the last VHT at the Horse Center. We are so grateful for your generous support and words of encouragement.”
Angela Bowles, Co-Organizer: “It took a lot to get me to move from Texas. It was hard to leave my family there, but I knew I had a family in Virginia, too, and that’s largely because of everyone at Virginia Horse Trials. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll never regret the relationships that I’ve made because of it.”
Emily Kolokowsky, Volunteer Organizer: “VHT means 15 days a year I get to spend with some of the best people I know. I have gained invaluable friendships and connections the last six years. I cannot thank Andy, Angela, and every single volunteer enough for all the love and support they have always given me. It has always been a dream of mine to compete at VHT. Instead I got something even better – an opportunity to be part of an incredible team.”
Terry Abrams, Secretary: “I cannot say what VHT has meant to me in a few words under Andy and Angela Bowles. My kids and farm kids grew up riding here! As the VHT show secretary, I have found a family and part of a beautiful, well-run organization that I am proud to have done my part to help grow into the thriving, well-organized show it has become. My prayer is we continue to bring this special group to our next venue to continue to advance our beloved sport and service our riders.”
David Taylor, Course Designer: “Five years ago I became part of VHT and have not looked back since. VHT is more than a horse show, it’s a well-oiled machine with many moving parts that act more like a family unit. Every single one of us worked together for the common good, stepping up when others needed help. My one greatest regret is not being able to run the cross-country one last time, but the memories I’ve had galloping the hills of the Blue Ridge will live on forever thanks to Andy and Angela.”
As for this scribe, it is the disruption of the family unit that is most profound. I never went through a VHT event without hearing “you’re part of the team” at least several times. Andy and Angela made people feel valued and built a close-knit, determined community. We worked hard for the sport, but we were most inspired to work hard for them.
We hope to see everyone again and continue with our traditions at Tryon. We hope the Federations see the support that has been lobbied behind the organizers and respond positively. On behalf of the entire VHT family, thank you for following along through the years and thank you for all your support.