Cross country action at the 2022 edition of the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida is currently underway! Red Hills welcomed back Mike Etherington-Smith for his 8th year as the cross country course designer for the CCI4-S and David O’Connor as assistant designer for the CC4-S and designer for the Advanced, CCI3-S, CCI2-S, Intermediate, and Preliminary divisions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike was unable to fly from the UK to Florida for the 2021 event, which ran without spectators, in order to do his usual course design duties. Instead, he FaceTimed David and builders Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert as they prepared the course and set fences. This year, Mike is happy to be back on site and here’s what he had to say regarding the 2022 track in his design notes:
“The course follows the same route as last year, which worked well, although there are some changes and some new fences. The key fences are in the usual places but the questions are different. The aim of the course remains the same as usual namely to give everyone a ‘fun run’ with a good variety of questions all up to height and appropriate for the level yet planned to give confidence as an early season run and the chance to get back in to the competition groove. The World Equestrian Games will be held in Italy in September this year and even though it seems a long way ahead those who have the ambition and the horse power will already be looking to put a marker down with USA High Performance this spring.
“My ambition as course designer is that horses and riders have a beneficial run, jump well, and come home feeling as though they have benefitted from their cross country. It is all about giving horse and rider the opportunity to show what they can do and are ready for rather than trying to catch them out, it needs to be a positive (not necessarily easy) experience to help set them up for the season ahead. The team from the City Parks have continued their good work on the ground and it seems to get better each year due to their efforts. As always my thanks to everyone involved in putting the courses together: Tyson and Levi plus Corinne and her excellent team of hard working volunteers.”
The CCI4*-S and Advanced divisions will run over the same course, with an optimum time of 6 minutes 39 seconds over 3789 meters. There are 24 numbered obstacles with 37 jumping efforts. The course winds through the beautiful moss-cladded Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, a recreation and conservation area maintained year-round by the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Take a peek at the course map for the marquee division, complete with audio explanations of each fence from Mike:
CCI4-S cross country kicks off at 11:45 AM ET and Advanced runs upon 4* completion. Red Hills is prepared to offer a livestream on the City of Tallahassee YouTube Channel, but has been experiencing technical difficulties so our fingers are crossed that we’ll get to enjoy some of the action today! The area experienced a substantial rain storm yesterday which took out their power and internet, and they’re working hard to remedy the situation.