There can be no doubt that Aiken is the place to be this winter if you are an eventer. Not only are there competitions, training and schooling opportunities galore, pretty much everyone is here. This year that includes riders from the United States Equestrian Federation’s winter training list of “Developing” riders as well as a selection of elite riders in consideration for the United States Eventing Team that will compete at international events in the coming years.
The riders will train at Three Runs Plantation, an equestrian development on the Southside. There will be three sessions, held on February 17-21, March 4-6 and March 17-19. On February 18, riders will train over the cross country course at Paradise Farm on route 302 east of town. Captain Mark Phillips, who recently renewed his contract as the U.S. chef d’équipe, will work with the riders. Wayne Raeford, who is the owner and developer of Three Runs, will be holding a V.I.P. brunch at the Three Runs clubhouse on February 19 with proceeds to benefit the USEF.
Other eventing extras this winter include a USEF benefit gala cocktail party and silent auction held at Phillip Dutton’s Red Oak Farm in Bridle Creek on the evening of March 6. This will be the second of five annual parties that Evie Dutton (Phillip’s wife) and Dineen Daniels (Bridle Creek’s co-owner and developer) are organizing in order to assist the USEF. Phillip Dutton will speak about the 2008 Hong Kong Olympics and there will be a silent auction and bountiful hors d’oeuvres. There is also a possibility that Gina Miles, who won the individual silver medal at the Games, will fly in from California. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased at Meybohm Realtors’ downtown office until February 27.
Horsemen might also want to check out the “That’s a Promise” tour, put on by Pennfield Feeds. Pennfield, a Pennsylvania-based company, feeds many of the horses on the U.S. Eventing Team, including horses owned by Phillip Dutton. Another Pennfield-fed horse, Jamaica, a driving horse owned by Chester Weber, was recently named the USEF Horse of the Year. The “That’s a Promise” tour starts in Florida and will be in Aiken on March 10. The evening will include talks about equine nutrition, the chance to meet Olympic riders, sip wine and sample hors d’oeuvres and compete for the opportunity to win a training session with an Olympian. Proceeds will benefit the USEF Young Rider program. For tickets and more information: www.thatsapromisetour.com.