There are eventing shows, and then there are events. When they named the TerraNova fall horse trials “The Event at TerraNova”, they weren’t joking: this, dear reader, is an event.
This weekend was my first time checking out the relatively new facility in Myakka City, FL, about two hours south of Ocala. Like many of you, I’d seen the photos on social media, and it looked nice, but I didn’t really have any pre-conceived notions. I rolled up this morning with my phone, my camera, and my appetite (look, I am a sucker for a good food truck) ready to check out the show jumping for the FEI divisions.
Show jumping day one of two. 💥
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Posted by TerraNova Equestrian Center on Saturday, October 22, 2022
That part did not disappoint. While the 4* field is only 12 entries deep, there are some quality horses among them. Despite having one rail down, Sara Kozumplik and everyone’s favorite unicorn, the Selle Francais gelding Rubens D’ysieux (Balougran Z x Davidoff Silver Shadow, by Mr Blue), are leading the 4* on a score of 35.7. There was only one clear round in that division, logged by Mary Bess Davis and her Anglo European Sporthorse, Imperio Magic (Cassander C x Khadija des Hayettes, by Banboula du Thot), which helped propel them up the leaderboard from 7th place to now be sitting in second position heading into the cross country tomorrow on a 36.7.
Clear rounds proved equally hard to come by in the 3* division, with only five riders adding nothing to their dressage score, now all occupying the top five positions on the leaderboard.
While the FEI divisions were busy show jumping, the lower levels (this event also runs national divisions from Intro on up) were doing the fun stuff out on cross country.
We’re all here for the running and jumping part, am I right? The finish line for the cross country was across the driveway from the show jumping warm-up, and my attention was quickly captured by the cheers and enthusiastic “Good Boy!” and “Good Girl!” coming from that side of the road.
Luckily the design of TerraNova makes it easy for spectators to see multiple things at once. The show jumping and dressage arenas are centrally located around the VIP pavilion/Rider’s Lounge, with the barns (omg the barns, we’ll get those) on the periphery of that, and then the cross country start box just a bit farther down the road.
In the interest of giving myself a better idea of the lay of the land, I did what any intrepid explorer does -– I started wandering. First down to the cross country warm-up, just in time to catch some of the Training division leaving the start box. Then I walked around part of the cross country track to check out some of the 4* track before heading back in to check out the stabling.
I had heard that the barns were pretty incredible here, and they lived up to the hype: this definitely isn’t your average horse show stabling. The barns are beautiful, with 250 permanent 12 x 12 stalls, each fitted with a stall mattress system along with its own fan and light, operated by individual switches. There are even large TV monitors in each barn aisle, one at each end.
While I was back in the barns I was able to catch up with competitor Amy Etheridge, leader of the Training Rider division, who came all the way to TerraNova from Texas to compete with Oldenburg gelding Royal Lufftanzer.
“I am here on my friend Kathy Rivera’s ex-Advanced horse, Lofty,” Amy described. “He’s 20 this year and I am having a blast and learning so much.” I was there when she left the start box and can attest that the smile was a full 1000 watts.
When asked why she chose this event, over 1100 miles from home, Amy said, “My friend came to the inaugural event last year and raved about the beautiful facilities and wonderful organization. We jumped at the chance to make the trip this year, and the event is even better than I imagined. The attention to detail is amazing in all aspects.”
As for the courses, “They were challenging works of art and a blast to ride! The footing was the most cared for and forgiving ground that I’ve had the opportunity to compete on.”
On that note, I have to say that you can certainly see where the priorities lay when they were developing this facility. The ground indeed does feel fantastic, and at one point I started trying to count how many sprinklers were situated around the course, but quickly gave up on that venture when I got into the dozens. The jumps and the footing are immaculate.
The more I wandered around the grounds, the more I started seeing all these little things that let you know it was designed with horses and their comfort in mind. The roads between all the barns and rings have a path of looser, softer dirt for the horse traffic, and harder packed dirt for vehicles. There is very little concrete here, with ample space and grass for hand-walking or hand-grazing.
Thoughtful design is evident throughout the rest of the facility as well. From the parking area spectators enter vendor row (I’m always excited to see vendors at horse shows, even if my wallet isn’t), followed by an area for food trucks (the Italian ice is a 10 out of 10), and even an art show. The VIP pavilion sits in between two large arenas, and since there’s also a dressage show happening this weekend, that meant we had dressage on one side and show jumping on the other.
On the other side of the vendors was a “Tiny Town” – a play area for kids (both enclosed and staffed with volunteers, for parents that need a bit of a break from child-wrangling, of which I saw many), to keep them entertained on these long show days.
TerraNova is still in the process of adding on to the facility, but the infrastructure in place so far makes for a great experience for both spectator and participant. Well, except for the fact that I couldn’t find the poutine food truck today… I suppose that’ll be a quest for tomorrow.
Cross country can be viewed live on the Horse & Country live stream here. Take a look at some of the questions Capt. Mark Phillips has laid out for the 4*-S riders below: