River Glen Horse Trials is one of the longest running events on the Area III calendar — it’s been going strong for over 30 years now. Nestled into a river bend at the foot of dramatic hills in Newmarket, Tennessee, the event has a homegrown, Appalachian feel and has cultivated a family of devotees who show up at event after event.
The venue hosts four horse trials each year, offering Starter through Intermediate divisions. New for 2019, its June 8-9 event will include two FEI divisions as well: a CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S (CIC1* and CIC2* under former FEI star classification system).
River Glen owner Bill Graves says he began pursuing the process of FEI accreditation because he perceived interest among competitors. “The reason why this came about is that the competitors kept asking for it,” he says. “We have quite a few people in our area who have been coming up the ranks at River Glen. It’s their home court and they would like to see FEI opportunities here to fulfill their aspirations. We want to make those opportunities more accessible to the people who need them.”
River Glen’s June FEI event takes place the week of Bromont (CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, CCI3*-S, CCI4*-L) in Quebec, and Bill is excited to offer a domestic short-format option. “Particularly between June and September there are very few FEI opportunities available,” he says. “There’s this big void in the schedule, and we’re trying to fill the void in June.”
Bill says that getting River Glen a date on the FEI calendar was a long and at times frustrating five-year process, but that he looks forward to producing a viable inaugural FEI event.
With the guidance of Canadian cross country course designer Steve Buckman, River Glen has rebuilt many of its jumps and introduced new complexes, such as a sunken road, over the past three years. The FEI cross country courses will share many of the same obstacles with the horse trials divisions, but there will be some modifications for the new divisions. “We certainly are going to have some special touches, some new jumps and questions out there,” Bill says.
If all goes well in June, Bill hopes to apply to host a long-format event in the future. “We’re going to work really hard to make it friendly and hospitable so we can build on that for other FEI events,” he says.
River Glen’s 2019 USEA horse trial dates are April 20-21, June 8-9, August 3-4 and November 11-12. The venue also hosts a locally-sanctioned hunter/jumper series, USEF/USDF dressage show and schooling shows, including an upcoming combined test on Feb. 23. For more information visit the website here.