Fair Hill Flashback: The (Unintentionally) Unreleased 2019 Full Photo Gallery

Sara Gumbiner and Polaris approach the final water. Photo by Abby Powell.

Thank goodness that we have Tilly’s coverage of the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Le Lion d’Angers in France to glue our eyes right now, because with all the memories of Fair Hills past popping up on social media this week — the week that historically had hosted the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Three-Day and was supposed to host the inaugural Maryland 5-Star at Fair Hill this year — I think there is a good chance we would all been driven mad by the ‘could have, would have, and should haves’ of the proper 2020 eventing season that never came to be.

2019 saw the final running of the four-star at Fair Hill, which played host to the USEF CCI4*-L National Eventing Championships for many years. It was bittersweet for many as the end of the long-standing event that had served as a year-end  or even bucket list goal for many riders. It was a beloved fixture, but the sweet part is that it’s elimination served to make way for North America’s second ever five-star event which would be held just up the road at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone.

Of course, we all know how things have played out this year and now we have neither Fair Hill International nor the Maryland 5-Star happening this weekend. But seeing  those flashback posts popping up on social media did remind of one thing — I never did post an entire photo gallery from FHI cross country day 2019, just winner’s photos in the end of day report. I had always intended to post my entire haul of photos I just … never got around to it … until now that is!

You see, Fair Hill International was the second ever event I reported on in-person for EN so I hadn’t totally figured out the workflow of a boots-on-the-ground photojournalist yet and I’ve never been the quickest writer anyway. By the time I had finished the day-end reports for each division and had edited and uploaded photos of just the leaders, it was time for an average of 5 hours of sleep before enthusiastically waking up to do it all over again.

Leaders and winners photos are great, sure. But I’ve found that those aren’t always the photos I’ve enjoyed looking at the most. The ones that I enjoy the most and the ones I am the most proud to have captured, are the ones where I was fortunate enough to release the shutter at just the right millisecond to capture a moment of joy or pride. Having not been to a single event this year — neither a schooling horse trials with my own pony nor a high performance showdown to cover for EN — I realize that what I miss the most about eventing right now is the utter joy that it brings.

That joy can come from a job well done in dressage:

It can come mid-way (even mid-jump!) around the cross country course during the split second that you realize you’re having the ride of your life:

And of course, if your dues have been paid and the stars have aligned, that joy can come at the conclusion of the final phase when a completion ribbon (or perhaps even a ribbon a little more grand!) serves as the cherry on top of a weekend to remember:

If you’ve been able to Go Eventing recently, make sure you count your lucky stars (and let’s all pray that they’ll be five of them here on this continent next year.) If you haven’t, then I hope you can catch a glimpse of joy in the photos above — I think it’s contagious through the biggest of smiles, even through a computer screen and even a year later — and hang on to it until the next time you get out.

Until then, take a little walk down memory lane with these photos from the 2019 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Three-Day — the majority of which we haven’t posted before —  remember a fabulous (if wet) weekend that was, and look forward to what is sure to be an epic inaugural Maryland 5-Star at Fair Hill next year.

Relive all of EN’s 2019 #DuttaFHI coverage here. And here’s a little something to tide you over until 2021: The Fair Hill Organizing Committee (FHOC), an affiliate of the Sport & Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, is hosting the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill 2020 Virtual Event Oct.15-18 in place of the postponed event.

Be sure to tune into @Maryland5Star on Facebook and YouTube at 12 PM ET each day to join the fun! For more details and to sign up for notifications of all the latest updates visit Maryland5Star.us/VirtualEvent.

And please do mark your 2021 calendars for Oct. 14-17, when we’ll get to see the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in its real-deal glory! We can’t wait.