The United States Equestrian Federation has once again selected Aiken as the site for winter training sessions for riders aspiring to be on the U.S. eventing team. For the third year, these sessions will be at Three Runs Plantation, an equestrian residential community on Aiken's Southside. Three Runs is an ideal location for winter training, providing jumping and dressage arenas with excellent, all-weather footing as well as a comfortable clubhouse overlooking the facility. These sessions are open to the public, and provide an unrivalled opportunity to watch our international riders train with Captain Mark Phillips, the chef d'équipe of the eventing team. The management of Three Runs has also invited select groups of interested horsemen to come out and enjoy lunch while observing the action. Cross country training sessions will be held on the course at Paradise Farm on Route 302 east of town.
There will be four sessions, two in February and two in March. The dates are: February 6-9; February 21-22; March 2-5 and March 16-18. The sessions are for riders on the current High Performance A and B training lists, meaning those who will most likely earn a spot on the team this year, as well as those that have the potential to compete now and in the near future. The winter training list also includes a roster of Developing Riders, who will be participating in the sessions by invitation.
The High Performance Riders are preparing to compete in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October. This year, three of the four riders on the A list are already based in Aiken during the winter months (Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin and Kim Severson. The fourth rider, Amy Tryon, lives in Washington and will spend the winter months in California.) There are nine riders on the High Performance B list, and at least five of them will definitely be training in Aiken. (Allison Springer, Jennie Brannigan, Will Coleman, Will Faudree and Laine Ashker.) The Developing Rider list has quite a number of familiar Aiken names. These include Sinead Halpin, Doug Payne, Kristin Schmolze and Arden Wildasin. Other Developing Riders who are slated to train here include Danielle Dichting and Lizzie Snow. The complete schedule for the first sessions is available through the Three Runs Plantation website www.ThreeRunsPlantation.com.
Aiken is one of three locations that have been chosen for winter training sessions. The other two are Ocala, where the O'Connors are based, and Thousand Oaks, California. Aiken can make a claim to be the most important of these locations. After all, we have the most riders. (There are 14 who will be training here, as compared to 13 in the other two locations combined.) If you look at just the High Performance riders, Aiken is the clear winner: we have 8 and the other to locations have 5.
For a complete roster of High Performance and Developing riders, go to the USEF website: www.usef.org. (It's a bit of an odyssey to track them down. The easiest way is to search for news releases. The Developing Rider and High Performance Rider lists were published on December 8, 2010.)
Hopes and expectations are high for the U.S. team. After a disappointing showing at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky (the U.S. failed to medal on its own home turf), eventers are looking to redeem themselves in Mexico. The last time the team competed in the Pan Am Games was 2007 in Rio de Janeiro. There they won team gold as well as individual gold, silver and bronze. Anyone wishing to support the U.S. team efforts can make a donation to the USEF. Although there is no specific fund raiser planned at the Three Runs this year, it will be possible to donate at the sessions.