Hello from Grand Oaks Resort in Weirsdale, Florida, site of the newest USEA recognized horse trials. Located about 20 miles southeast of Ocala, the 340-acre venue has long hosted competitions ranging from pure dressage and show jumping to combined driving and polo, and with the construction of a new cross country course last year, we are lucky to add eventing to the list.
The action kicked off today with dressage for all divisions from Beginner Novice to Preliminary, and while the morning started with frosty temperatures, conditions ultimately thawed to give us a beautiful Florida day.
With ample space for warm-up and multiple arenas with GGT footing, dressage day ran very smoothly for the 270 entries here at Grand Oaks. Event organizer Shelley Page said the event is very pleased with the number of entries for their inaugural horse trials, and the competitors are certainly in for a treat this weekend.
Tomorrow riders will take on Chris Barnard’s show jumping course on the grass derby field, which provides plenty of atmosphere with flags lining the rails to give the feel of a top-class event.
Cross country will also run tomorrow for several divisions, and Clayton Fredericks’ course is beautifully presented. Built by the dream team of Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert and decorated by Megan Murfey, the course features spectacular carvings set against the backdrop of majestic oak trees.
The course offers quite a bit of terrain, which is a rare find in Florida, and there is an especially long pull up a hill early on the course. While there aren’t as many jumping efforts as you might expect, the courses are longer with multiple galloping stretches. It’s a fantastic opportunity to build fitness early in the season.
The Vendor Village is set up near the resort’s restaurant, The Bistro, which will host tonight’s competitors party. Grand Oaks is truly a stunning venue, and we have to send a hearty thank you to Trenton Lambert, Tom Warriner, Kacy Tipton-Fashik, Marilyn Hunt, Monica Lea and the entire team that runs the resort for welcoming eventing with open arms.
The event is free to spectators and will also include a Corvette show on Sunday. The venue also has a museum with one of the world’s largest private collections of carriages and equine artifacts. In short, you will not be disappointed if you make the trip to Grand Oaks!
Keep scrolling to view a photo gallery of sights and sounds from today. David Frechette is on site filming videos, so be sure to watch videos of today’s dressage tests here. You can follow along with live scoring here. Best of luck to all competitors this weekend! Go Eventing.